Business Loop I-80
Freeway entrance shield assembly for Business Loop I-80 located at the intersection of W Street and 15th Street (former California 160) in Sacramento, near the communities of Richmond Grove and Poverty Ridge. With the planned sign replacement project announced in September 2015, this will likely be replaced with a U.S. 50 shield in its place. Caltrans prefers not to have two routes overlapping on the same highway segment, and U.S. 50 is to become the signed route. Photo taken 03/13/15.
Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento is the Capital City Freeway, following a portion of U.S. 50 and all of unsigned California 51. It connects to Interstate 80 on either side of downtown Sacramento. The business loop freeway was created in 1982 and renamed the Capital City Freeway in 1996. It is routed with unsigned Interstate 305 and signed U.S. 50 on its western leg and with unsigned California 51 and a portion of Interstate 305 on its eastern leg. The portion of the eastern leg (along California 51) northeast of C Street is not in the Interstate System due to substandard construction (narrow shoulders, poor sight distances, and the Marconi Curve). According to the California State Highway System Signing Log (October 1991), Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento runs from "Interstate 80 near West Sacramento over Legislative U.S. 50 to Legislative 50/51/99 Separation and over Legislative State Route 51 to Interstate 80 east of Watt Avenue." A sign upgrade plan advertised by Caltrans in September 2015 will result in a significant deemphasis of Business Loop I-80 along the U.S. 50 segment. Caltrans will change most signage to reflect U.S. 50 as the primary route, and Business Loop I-80 will be either partially signed or unsigned along this segment.2
As defined in the California State Highway Code, legislative Route 51 is to be signed and designated as "Interstate Business Loop 80." The September 2015 Caltrans signage project proposes no significant changes to how Business Loop I-80 is signed, and there are no current proposals to sign California 51 actively. SR 51 overlays the business route east from the junction with U.S. 50 and SR 99 northeast to the Interstate 80 and SR 244 (Auburn Boulevard) interchange along the Elvas Freeway. To complete the loop, the section of U.S. 50 between West Sacramento and SR 99 is signed and designated Business Loop I-80 and U.S. 50.
The portion of Business Loop I-80 that meets Interstate standards, including the entire segment concurrent with U.S. 50 as well as the first few miles of California 51 (southern end up to near C Street) is designated by the Federal Highway Administration as Interstate 305. Caltrans does not recognize Interstate 305 as an official state highway designation since it is not defined in the Streets and Highways Code. This designation is not signed, and it ends at the point where the elevated 29-30 viaduct descends near C Street. The American River bridge and the remainder of the route northeast of there (including the Marconi Curve) are not part of Interstate 305 and do not meet Interstate standards. The non-Interstate 305 segment of the business loop is the portion that was planned to be bypassed by the new alignment of Interstate 80, before that project was cancelled.
Business Loop I-80 Highway Guides
The portion of Business Loop I-80 along California 51 is locally referred to as the "Capital City Freeway," "Cap City Freeway," "Business 80," or "Biz 80." The east-west U.S. 50 segment is often referred to as the WX, Camellia City Viaduct, or simply as Highway 50. The legislation that created Business Loop I-80 along California 51 was passed in 1981 and implemented in 1982 by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with the concurrence of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). AASHTO assigns business loop designations, and it approved the rerouting of Interstate 80 and Interstate 880 that allowed for the creation of Business 80.
According to Joe Rouse, "the choice of Business 80 was made with the idea of making it easier to get into town (after all, it is posted as the exit for Sacramento at its termini)." However, motorist confusion resulted. In 1996, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) decided to name the entire Interstate Business Loop 80 freeway as the Capital City Freeway. This designation came about in response to complaints from travelers who found it difficult to follow Business 80. This redesignation may have cost around $150,000, but this has not been substantiated. However, even with the new name, traffic reporters alternately refer to Business Loop I-80 by its numerical designation or by its relatively new name. However, most Sacramentans know what to call the business loop when giving directions to people from out of town.
Prior to the Capital City Freeway designation, Business 80 has a host of names. One of the most famous rush-hour traffic bottlenecks is a curving section of California 51 around the Marconi exit, known as the "Marconi Curve." The two major viaduct sections near downtown also have names: The "WX" is so named because the freeway overlays the block between W and X Streets (and is known to Caltrans as the Camellia City Viaduct), and the "29/30" is so named because the freeway overlays the block between 29th and 30th Streets. In addition to the colloquial names listed above (WX or Camellia City Viaduct and 29/30 Viaduct), the business loop was also known as the West Sacramento Freeway between Interstate 80 west and Interstate 5, as the North Sacramento Freeway between California 160 and the Marconi Curve, and as the Roseville Freeway between Marconi Curve and Interstate 80 east. The California 51 portion also shows on some maps as the Elvas Freeway south of California 160, and some early maps call it the State Freeway between California 160 and the Interstate 80 and California 244 junction.
Westbound W Street approaches 5th Street in the Southside Park community of Sacramento. Use Business Loop I-80 and U.S. 50 (Interstate 305) west to Interstate 5 (Redding and Los Angeles) and Interstate 80 (San Francisco). With the planned sign replacement project announced in September 2015, Business Loop I-80 will likely be replaced with a U.S. 50 shield in its place. Photo taken 03/13/15.
Originally what is now Business Loop I-80 was signed and designated as Interstate 80. Around 1964, Interstate 80 made its first appearance in Sacramento, following the old joint section of U.S. 40 and U.S. 99E and a section of U.S. 99E across the American River into downtown. The Interstate 880 bypass around Sacramento is planned but unbuilt. A year or two later, a plan to bypass the existing Interstate 80 with a new, 5.1-mile alignment parallel to the existing freeway was put forward by what is now called Caltrans. The new alignment was to start in the median of Interstate 880 from the 80/880 junction in northeast Sacramento in a dual freeway design. It would then separate onto an alignment parallel to the Southern Pacific Railroad mainline all the way to where it would rejoin the old Interstate 80 alignment just south of the American River. From here south into downtown another dual freeway design will be used. The bypass was needed because the existing Interstate 80 alignment doesn't meet Interstate standards, and many of these poor standards are still evident today on the Business Loop I-80 segment northeast of the American River crossing.
The "FAU 6380" designation was used for the old alignment while the new alignment was still on the books during the 1960s and 1970s. It is doubtful that FAU 6380 was ever planned to become Interstate 380, since Interstate 380 in San Francisco came into use sometime in the 1970s so it could not have been named that. In addition, the old alignment did not meet Interstate standards. It is unclear what the bypassed old alignment would have been called or if it would have been kept as a state route.
In 1969, construction was well underway on Interstate 880, the northern bypass of Sacramento. The dual freeway design on Interstate 880 was part of its construction. By 1972, the Interstate 880 bypass was completed. The portion of the new Interstate 80 alignment within the Interstate 880 median was completed but not opened to traffic. It ended at a long bridge going nowhere just past where it leaves Interstate 880. Numerous problems hindered completion of the new alignment.
During the 1970s, Northern California Interstate construction and planning proceeded, albeit with many changes along the way. By the late 1970s, there were seven Interstate x80 numbers in use and one available. Here is a brief summary:
- California 180 is an original legislative route that currently runs east-west through Fresno. Since Caltrans does not allow duplicate numbers, an Interstate 180 routing is not available. Having said that, early 1980s plans called for Interstate 180 to be routed across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, but it was never signed. A few Rand McNally maps from the 1980s even showed Interstate 180 signed along the bridge, although it' unlikely that happened. What was proposed as Interstate 180 later became part of an extended Interstate 580.
- Interstate 280 runs from U.S. 101 in San Jose north to Third Street just south of downtown San Francisco with a planned connection to Interstate 80 and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge.
- Interstate 380 runs from U.S. 101 near the San Francisco International Airport to Interstate 280 in San Bruno, with a planned (and still unbuilt) connection to California 1 in Pacifica.
- California 480 (Former Interstate 480) ran from Interstate 80 at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge along the Embacadero Freeway to an end near Broadway. Prior to 1965, California 480 was a chargeable Interstate and was briefly signed as Interstate 480. However, since it was not completed due to local oppostion (freeway revolt), California 480 was not granted chargeable Interstate status. Even after 1965 there could not be another Interstate 480 because it would duplicate California 480.
- Interstate 580 runs from Interstate 80 at the Bay Bridge on the Oakland side southeast to Hayward, then due east toward Tracy and Modesto. This designation was later extended northwest to San Rafael via the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.
- Interstate 680 runs from Interstate 80 south to San Jose through the East Bay.
- Interstate 780 connects Interstate 80 and Interstate 680 near Vallejo; it was originally part of Interstate 680 between Benicia and Vallejo. Interstate 780 was commissioned when Interstate 680 was rerouted onto California 21 toward Fairfield rather than Vallejo.
- Interstate 880 was the Sacramento Bypass that now carries Interstate 80 (until 1982); the designation was later transferred to the former California 17 corridor between San Jose and Oakland.
- Interstate 980 was unused at the time Business Loop I-80 was signed, but it later was assigned to the extension of the California 24 freeway through downtown Oakland to connect Interstate 580 and Interstate 880 (former California 17).
For more background on these California Interstates, check out Daniel Faigin' Chargeable and Non-Chargeable Interstate Highways page. It explains the difference between chargeable and non-chargeable Inter state routes and lists which highways were approved as Interstates and which highways were denied. This list shows that only 980 was available for use as an Interstate x80 number in 1979.
It was at this time that the proposed new Interstate 80 alignment was modified. The Sacramento City Council, in a historic first, voted that year to delete the new, 5.1-mile Interstate 80 alignment (between C Street and the Interstate 80/California 244 interchange) and use the funding and right-of-way for a rail transit system. Prior to 1979, no other city had ever done this. The right-of-way of Interstate 80 that had been partially built by 1979 is now used by Sacramento' light rail system.
This realignment was from the northeast Interstate 80/880 junction to the then-Interstate 80 freeway just north of downtown Sacramento. From the northeast 80/880 Sacramento junction to this proposed realignment, the then-Interstate 80 freeway was signed as Interstate 80, but was not on the Interstate system. The realignment was, but it wasn't built (and wasn't going to be built). At this time, the then-Interstate 80 freeway through Sacramento also carried California State Legislative Route Number 80 on the state highway system.
In 1980, the following year, the new Interstate 80 alignment was withdrawn from the Interstate system. The need for route continuity for Interstate 80 meant that Interstate 880 is redesignated as Interstate 80 by FHWA and AASHTO. The original incarnation of Interstate 880 in California was therefore decommissioned as a result of that action in 1980. The portion of existing Interstate 80 from where the new alignment would have come in south of the American River to Highway 99 is withdrawn from the Interstate system and classified as FAP Route 51. The portion of Interstate 80 from Highway 99 west to the 80/880 junction in West Sacramento is retained in the Interstate system as Interstate 305 (FAI 305). No signage changes take place, however, because 80 and 880 remain in their original alignments in the state highway system. State Highway changes would not take place until 1982.
This realignment of route numbers shows that the idea that Interstate 880 was stolen from Sacramento and given to the Bay Area is false -- Interstate 880 was not in use in California for at least two years (1980-1982).
The 1980 FHWA action made no change to the classification of FAU 6380. In order to ensure FAP continuity in Sacramento, FAP 51 is extended over FAU 6380. Again, there is no signage change. This did not occur until the passage of SB 91. State Senate Bill 191 (1981) made several changes in the highway system to reflect the FHWA actions. New signs were posted at this point. 880 was deleted from the state highway system, and 80 was rerouted over it. The FAP 51 segment of the old 80 alignment is renumbered as California 51.
FAI 305 was then renumbered as a westward extension of U.S. 50. All of the old 80 alignment will be signed as Interstate Business Loop 80 per AASHTO approval. FAI 305 was never signed as Interstate 305. However, the FAI designation remains in place to this day. Therefore, it is correct to state that Interstate 305 indeed exists between the Interstate 80/U.S. 50 interchange in West Sacramento through the California 99/U.S. 50/California 51 interchange near downtown Sacramento and then northeast to the American River bridge (C Street).1 According to Joe Rouse, the Interstate 305 designation is only a federal designation, and is used for funding purposes only. The state route number is 50 and that is how Caltrans refers to it, even though it is primarily signed as Business Loop I-80. There have not been and are no plans to sign Interstate 305 shields on it at all. The Interstate 305 designation has only appeared on a couple of local street maps, and that was years ago. Interstate 305 is not designated in the California Streets and Highways Code, either (unlike most signed California state routes).
By 1982, the routes affected by SB 191 were completely signed and marked (1982 was the first year of a signed Business Loop I-80 freeway in Sacramento). The old Business Loop (Spur?) I-80 along West Capitol Avenue (Former U.S. 40/99W) was deleted to avoid confusion. It was not until the following year, 1983, when Caltrans asked FHWA and AASHTO to add new routes to the Interstate system in the Bay Area. The requests were: renumber Interstate 180 as an extension of Interstate 580; designate California 17 from San Jose to Oakland as Interstate 880; and change the freeway portion of California 238 near Hayward to Interstate 238. These requests are approved, resulting in FAP routes 238, 580, and 880. Again, no signage changes are made because the changes had not been made in the state highway system. Interstate 180 may have been signed, but if so, it was brief. Interstate 180 violated California's number duplication policy (since there is a State Route 180 through Fresno in Central California). However, Interstate 180 was classified as Route 17 in the state highway system and was mostly signed as State Route 17. FHWA had classified it as FAI 180. The route was not full freeway through Richmond - it became full freeway in the late 1990s. Perhaps for this reason it was reclassified as FAP 580 (rather than FAI 580).
Postmiles on Interstate 80 around Sacramento are designated with the letter "M". All non-prefixed mileages are 1964 mileages. If a segment has been realigned since 1964, the realigned portion uses the prefix "R" and postmile "equations" (the ahead (AHD)/back (BK)) are used where the realigned portion leaves and rejoins the original alignment. If that first realignment is again realigned this second realignment has the prefix "M". And again a PM equation is used where the second realignment leaves and joins the first realignment.
Based on the rules above, the mileage of the first realignment of Interstate 80 (the partially-built-but-never-opened Interstate 80 bypass) was designated with the "R" prefix, starting roughly at the 1964 PM 4.0 or PM 4.5. The bypass would have joined Interstate 880 just east of Watt at PM R10.66 and Business Loop I-80 at PM R11.27, which was equal to 1964 PM 11.68. Due to the fact that the Interstate 80 bypass was supposed to connect with Interstate 880 west of Business Loop I-80, PM R10.66 to R11.27 is technically first realignment mileage even though it was signed Interstate 880.
The second realignment of Interstate 80 was onto the Interstate 880 alignment. That' why that portion is prefixed "M". There are some PM markers on that segment that do not have the M and just have the extra "8" in the route number whited-out. The portion of Interstate 80 in Yolo County that was realigned onto Interstate 880 uses "R" prefixes.
Returning to our chronology, in 1984, State Assembly Bill 2741 made the changes to 17 and 580 in the state highway system. No change was made to 238 since its number didn't change. The following year, the resignage of the routes affected by AB 2741 was completed. The freeway portion of California 238 is resigned as Interstate 238 at this time. The 580 extension was likely signed as Temporary Interstate 580 on the non-freeway segment. So, by the end of 1985, signage for the new Interstate 880 (former California 17), extended Interstate 580 (Interstate standard California 17 between Richmond and San Rafael), new Interstate 980 (California 24 between Interstates 880 and 580), and new Interstate 238 (connector between Interstates 580 and 880) was in place.
To recap, by the mid-1980s, the following roadways were added to the Interstate highway system as chargeable and non-chargeable Interstate mileage (see Faigin' page for more):
- California 17 between San Jose and Oakland
- California 17 between Richmond and San Rafael
- California 24 between California 17 and Interstate 580
- California 238 between California 17 and Interstate 580
The Interstate 980 designation was given to the California 24 segment, while the California 238 connector was given the number Interstate 238 (to the chagrin of many -- for a balanced review of the Interstate 238 situation, go to Casey Cooper's Indigestion 238 page. California 17 over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was initially designated Interstate 180 in 1978, then recommissioned as an extension of Interstate 580 in 1983. However, there were no numbers left to give to the California 17 route between San Jose and Oakland. Caltrans decided to give that stretch of road the Interstate 880 designation (which is a number that would later live in infamy due to the tragiccollapse of the double-deck Nimitz Freeway portion around Oakland).
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the RT Metro light rail began service two years later, in 1987. The light rail service uses the completed portion of the attempted 80 realignment along with much of the old right-of-way.
In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake collapsed a portion of the Interstate 880 freeway in Oakland called the Cypress structure. Forty-two people were killed in the tragic collapse. A large segment of Interstate 880 reopened in Oakland on a completely new alignment in mid-1997.
In 1990, the freeway section of Interstate 580 was completed through Richmond and classified as FAI 580. The older freeway section remains FAP 580.
In 1996, the Sacramento City Council voted to name Business Loop I-80 as the Capital City Freeway. The route numbers and FHWA classifications remained unchanged, as did the Business Loop designation. New signage with the new name was added at the same time, and later sign replacement projects also incorporated the name.
In 1998, Caltrans developed plans to construct HOV lanes on the 29/30th portion of Business Loop I-80. They begin near E Street and continue southward onto California 99 to meet with the existing California 99 HOV lanes there. Caltrans will add the HOV lanes to those viaducts by simply repaving and restriping the lanes. (It is possible that they will eliminate a through lane in the process -- I'm not sure.) The lanes will be completed in 1999. Once they are completed it will form 15 miles of continuous HOV lanes on Business Loop I-80 and California 99. New signage on Business Loop I-80 and California 99 is also included in the HOV project.
By 1999, the reconstruction of the California 51 section of Business Loop I-80 was nearly complete. The new median overhead signs along California 51 had the new, California-style Business Loop shield design, which features a more angular version of the traditional Interstate highway shield. In addition, the contractors who reconstructed this section of Business Loop 80 had posted white "Your Tax Dollars At Work" signs with State Route 51 shields. Nevertheless, Business Loop I-80 (the Capital City Freeway) is still the official designation of this road.
In addition, in the spring of 1999, the city of Sacramento considered taking over the California 160 freeway (which runs from downtown Sacramento to Business Loop I-80 near the Arden Wye) and downgrading it to a city street with at-grade intersections. This would, according to the city, allow more development along the highway. This takeover did not happen, and California 160 has a northern freeway segment that remains intact as a state highway as of this writing. The city of West Sacramento decided in 2007 to replace the California 275/West Sacramento Freeway with a non-limited access road to encourage more development. Known as the Tower Bridge Gateway, the city downgraded the freeway to a surface street and allowed more urban infill development near Raley Field.
Also in 2000, the dual signage for California 99 was removed from its concurrent sections with Business Loop I-80 and Interstate 5. Overhead signs only read "To California 99." This is done in conjunction with a series of improvement projects on Interstate 5. California 99 shields were removed because there is a significant break in California 99 between its junction with Routes 50 and 51 at the Oak Park Interchange and where it junctions with Interstate 5 north of Sacramento.
In 2015, Caltrans issued a contract to focus signage on the east-west portion of Business 80 as U.S. 50. Once the signage project is completed, Business 80 will become minimally signed or unsigned along U.S. 50. Business 80 will continue to be the focal route for the north-south California 51 segment in compliance with the Streets and Highways Code.
Thanks to Joe Rouse for helping with the history of the business loop freeway.
To summarize the history of Business 80, a realignment of Interstate 80 was killed in Sacramento forcing the use of Interstate 880 as Interstate 80 to ensure route continuity. The change took place for the FHWA in 1980. The state changed its system in 1981, and resignage took place the following year (1982). In 1983, Caltrans asked that 880 be used for California 17 and received approval the same year. The next year the state system was changed; resignage took place in 1985. In short, the 880 number was out of use for about a year and disappeared because of a need for route continuity on 80, not because of a shortage of Interstate x80 numbers in the Bay Area. On a related note it would appear that California 17 was promoted to Interstate 580 in Richmond in order to hasten completion of the freeway connection to Interstate 80. That freeway had been in the works since the 1950s.
An improvement project is planned for the WX Freeway viaduct along Business Loop I-80 and U.S. 50 between California 99 and the Sacramento River bridge. The 2012 State of the Corridor Report on the Highway 50 Corridor System Management Plan (CSMP) calls for eventual consideration of high occupancy vehicle lanes and other related improvements. A recently completed improvement along the U.S. 50 segment was the Camellia City Viaduct (WX Freeway) Rehabilitation. The viaduct was built in 1968, and the 2014 rehabilitation project cost $46.2 million. Construction for this rehabilitiation project occurred in 2014. The project benefits include wider shoulders, improved lighting, and a service life of structure decks for 20 years.
The 2012 State of the Corridor Report on the Interstate 80 and Capital City Freeway Corridor System Management Plan (CSMP) calls for improvements along the California 51 segment of Business Loop I-80 (Capital City Freeway) as follows: "SR 51 Preliminary Investigation: A development plan is currently being prepared that is identifying and prioritizing needed TOS and ITS improvement projects along SR 51 from US 50 to I-80, including ITS, bus/carpool and auxiliary lanes, and widening of the American River Bridge. The plan will include a project delivery phasing plan that identifies and prioritizes capital projects. Once the plan is completed, the highest priority projects will be pursued based on funding availability." As a result, no imminent projects are planned for construction along the California 51 segment, but they will be added once master planning is complete and funding becomes available.
General Highway Scenes
This freeway entrance shield assembly is posted on the on-ramp from eastbound X Street onto U.S. 50 and Business 80 east near the 16th Street intersection in Sacramento. Photo taken 03/13/15.
- The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways: Part V - Interstate Withdrawal-Substitution Program: Withdrawal of I-80 -- Sacramento, California.
- District 3/Sacramento - Sign Replacement Project - AARoads Forum thread that explains the changes to signage along Business Loop I-80, U.S. 50, and California 51
Page Updated October 7, 2015.