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Home Working with Section 106 ACHP Case Digest Winter 2005 California: Modification of Tower Bridge, Sacramento and West Sacramento
California: Modification of Tower Bridge, Sacramento and West Sacramento
Agency: Federal Highway Administration
The Federal Highway Adminstration (FHWA) is considering providing funding to the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, California, to modify a historic bridge known as Tower Bridge. The crossing provides vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian access between the two cities across the Sacramento River.
Tower Bridge is a Streamlined Moderne-style lift bridge, consisting of a vertical lift span, steel through truss, and reinforced concrete and steel plate deck girder approach spans. Built between 1934 and 1936, the structure is the only movable bridge of its style in the State.
The bridge also features a unique verticality, which the designers achieved by sheathing the towers in bolted and riveted quarter-inch steel panels. The vertical nature of the towers is echoed in the concrete pylons at each end of the bridge.
Tower Bridge is considered by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) as one of the States most important bridges. Elements of the bridges design were later used in constructing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Unfortunately, the bridges sidewalks, which are a contributing element to the historic significance of the bridge, are too narrow to support safe pedestrian and bicycle traffic during times of heavy use. The cities propose widening the sidewalks by six to seven feet.
The project is important to the local governments as part of their revitalization efforts along the Sacramento River, and is supported by the community.
In September 2004, as part of the Section 106 review process, FHWA notified the ACHP that the project would have an adverse effect on Tower Bridge. The ACHP entered into consultation on the proposed project and called for a site visit and meeting among the projects other consulting parties to discuss objections raised by the SHPO to the proposed project and FHWAs responses. U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson and Robert Matsui attended the meeting and voiced their support of the proposed project.
The SHPO has withdrawn from consultation on the bridge-widening project, stating that it does not believe that FHWA has adequately considered alternatives that might avoid the projects adverse effects. The SHPO is concerned that widening the sidewalks, from the current three to four feet, to 10 feet on both sides of the bridge, will significantly affect the vertical nature of the bridges historic design.
While the ACHP agrees that the proposed project will have an adverse effect, it has accepted FHWAs preferred approach and believes that it is important to weigh the projects adverse effects against its importance to the cities involved. Thus, the ACHP has agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
FHWA is currently developing the MOA, which outlines measures that the California Department of Transportation must take to minimize the adverse effects of the project on Tower Bridge.
The MOA includes provisions to preserve the original sidewalk railings and relocate them to the outside of the widened sidewalks; upgrade the railings to current safety standards in a reversible fashion; and preserve in place those elements such as original concrete walls and lighting fixtures, pedestrian gates, and sidewalk support members as much as possible.
The MOA is expected to be executed in spring 2005.
Staff contact: Carol
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