California 275

California 275 is the Tower Bridge crossing the Sacramento River, connecting the Tower Bridge Gateway on the west with Capitol Mall on the east. Capitol Mall continues east, leading toward the California State Capitol. The former freeway route in West Sacramento is now locally maintained and referred to as the Tower Bridge Gateway; it extends from Business Loop I-80 and U.S. 50 (Capital City Freeway) east through West Sacramento up to the Tower Bridge approach. Legislatively, California 275 was decommissioned in 1996, but the Tower Bridge remains in state custody at this time. The city of West Sacramento has since demolished the interchange between the Tower Bridge Gateway and West Capitol Avenue/Garden Street/Delta Lane. The state route ended near the State Capitol on the Capitol Mall.

This route is largely part of Old U.S. 40 and U.S. 99W. California 275 was created for the state-maintained segments of the former U.S. route. In 1996, California 275 in the cities of West Sacramento and Sacramento was decommissioned legislatively, but the route was not officially decommissioned in practice until later. The first section of California 275 was decommissioned as part of the Tower Bridge Gateway redevelopment project. During that project, the freeway portion of former California 275 was officially transferred from Caltrans to the city of West Sacramento in 2001. Once the city took over the freeway, the city began to downgrade the freeway to an at-grade expressway with traffic signals. The first interchange removal occurred at what is now Garden Street and Delta Lane (formerly Riske Lane; this was a partial trumpet interchange) with demolition of the overpass in Spring 2007; now a traffic signal with Garden Street is located at the former location of the interchange. Eventually the entire route through West Sacramento is planned to be more like an urban boulevard and less like a fast route through West Sacramento into downtown Sacramento. The goal of the revised route is to revitalize West Sacramento' neighborhoods on the west bank of the Sacramento River.

This former section of California 275 was renamed as the Capitol Gateway, which was the former Jefferson Avenue off ramp and brief freeway between Business Loop I-80 and the Tower Bridge. According to the West Sacramento City Webpage, now that West Sacramento has control of the roadway, the city renamed the former freeway as "Capitol Gateway." According to the report: "Originally built in the 1940s as a bypass of West Capitol Avenue, the road segment now serves as a high speed, limited access connection between U.S. 50/Business Loop I-80 and the Tower Bridge. Planned intersection improvements - including the Riske Lane intersection that is the subject of the City-s application to SACOG-s Community Design funding program - will significantly alter the nature and function of (former) State Route 275. With the addition of three at-grade intersections, at Third Street/South River Road, Fifth Street, and Riske Lane/Garden Street, former California 275 is no longer a controlled access freeway. The vision for the future is as a major arterial with landscaped edges, more akin to a parkway. While still providing a high-capacity through route linking the Tower Bridge and U.S. 50/Business 80, the street will also serve emerging West Sacramento neighborhoods better." The conversion of former California 275 from a freeway into a parkway with at least three additional at-grade intersections is partially funded through a grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) in July 2004, and the first intersection is currently under environmental review. Construction of the first intersection is tentatively scheduled to begin for Summer 2005. (Thanks to Maureen Pascoe for the latest construction and funding information.)

The Tower Bridge, which crosses the Sacramento River, opened on December 15, 1935, and repainted after a contest to decide its color in 2002. It is a four-lane lift bridge and has tall yellow towers that lift the central span to allow larger ships to pass underneath the bridge. Currently (as of 2009), the bridge and Capitol Mall in the city of Sacramento is still maintained by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) even though it is disconnected from the rest of the state highway system. The Capitol Mall segment of former California 275 was officially transferred from Caltrans to the city of Sacramento in 2006; no significant changes are anticipated for Capitol Mall, which runs from the east approach to the Tower Bridge to the State Capitol (main road ends at 9th Street; next block between 9th and 10th Streets is a traffic circle around a fountain). A large turf median lies in the middle of Capitol Mall between the bridge and the capitol building.

Tower Bridge Gateway (Former California 275) east
The Tower Bridge Gateway, which is signed as "Downtown Sacramento/Jefferson Boulevard," is Exit 3 from Business 80/U.S. 50 (Capital City Freeway). The right two lanes of Business 80 split off toward the Tower Bridge, which was the original route of U.S. 40-99W over the Sacramento River into downtown Sacramento. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway splits from California 84 (Jefferson Boulevard), with the left two lanes connecting to the former route of California 275 and the right lane connecting to Jefferson Boulevard (which is unsigned California 84). California 275 was a prior route of U.S. 40-99W west into downtown Sacramento before the Interstate 80 (now Business Loop I-80) bridge over the Sacramento River was built in 1966. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The ramp to the eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway carries two lanes over Business 80 and U.S. 50. The advance sign for the Interstate 5 interchange on eastbound Business 80 can be seen below the flyover ramp. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The ziggurat and West Sacramento skyline comes into view on eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Raley Field, which is home to the minor league baseball team Sacramento Rivercats, comes into view on the south side of the Tower Bridge Gateway. The section of freeway that can be seen in the distance ahead was converted into a surface boulevard in 2007. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The Tower Bridge Gateway drops to ground level as an on-ramp merges from Jefferson Boulevard (former California 84). The overpass in the distance for Riske Lane, which connects to old U.S. 40-99W (West Capitol Avenue), was demolished in 2007, and a signalized intersection was put in its place. Photos taken 01/16/06 and 09/05/10.
California 275 was a freeway, but the Tower Bridge Gateway is a surface boulevard with intersections and traffic signals. Motorists must slow down. The next right turn connects to Ironworks Avenue, which serves a residential development on the south side of the Gateway. Following that is a signalized intersection with Garden Street and Riske Lane. Prior to 2008, this was a full interchange that linked former California 275 to Delta Lane (formerly Riske Lane; the exit was signed as West Capitol Avenue). To Raley Field, follow the Gateway east to Fifth Street or Third Street. The ballpark is located on the south side of the Gateway. Photos taken 01/16/06 and 09/05/10.
Eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway meets Ironworks Avenue. Back when this was California 275, this was the approximate location of a former off-ramp/interchange that used to connect California 275 to Riske Lane at this interchange. This interchange was removed in 2007. Photos taken 01/16/06 and 09/05/10.
Eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway (old California 275) approaches Garden Street north and Delta Lane south at a traffic signal. This used to be about where the old Riske Lane off-ramp left the former freeway here. Use Garden Street north to West Capitol Avenue (old U.S. 40-99W, which was briefly signed as U.S. 40 Business from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s and as Business Spur I-80 before the business loop freeway was defined in 1980). Photos taken 01/16/06 and 09/05/10.
Eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway meets Garden Street north and Delta Lane south at this signal. Landscaping improvements were made to the median, replacing Caltrans-standard oleander bushes with turf and trees. Photo taken 09/05/10.
The second exit on eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway (old California 275) is with South River Road, which also serves Raley Field and connects to downtown West Sacramento. A railroad crosses over old California 275 at this point. Traffic from West Capitol Avenue merges onto eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway. Photo taken 01/16/06.
A drawbridge warning sign is located on Tower Bridge Gateway (old California 275) east. When flashing, slow down since the bridge is in lift operation. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Eastbound Tower Bridge Gateway reaches the sharp off-ramp to South River Road. This exit Raley Field and connects back with Riske Lane. The yellow towers of the Tower Bridge come into view. Photo taken 01/16/06.
This series of pictures follows Tower Bridge Gateway eastbound in 2010 on the approach to the Tower Bridge. This lift bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Sacramento, along with the state capitol building. Further changes (not shown) have taken place here between 2010 and 2012, including two new at-grade traffic signalized intersections with Fifth Street and Third Street. Photos taken 09/05/10.
The Tower Bridge Gateway ends as the state takes over maintenance for the approach to the Tower Bridge. Upon crossing the bridge, motorists will leave West Sacramento and enter Sacramento. Photos taken 09/05/10 and 01/16/06.
California 275/Tower Bridge east
A California 275 postmile is the only indication that the state has taken over maintenance. The Tower Bridge is a vertical lift bridge that opened on December 15, 1935 (note the large date stamp on the concrete tower on the south side of the Tower Bridge approach). The yellow towers are 160 feet tall, and the bridge was built in cooperation between the state of California, county of Sacramento, and Sacramento Northern Electric Railroad replaced the original M Street bridge that dates back to 1926. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The Tower Bridge has a length of 737 feet, and the center lift segment 209 feet long. The bridge has a width of 52 feet. The width was designed to accommodate four dedicated lanes for autos, and the center lane was planned for the railroad with curbing between the rail and auto lanes to avoid accidents. Today, the railroad component was removed, although some have discussed the possibility of a light rail trolley to cross the bridge. Pedestrian sidewalks are located on both sides of the bridge.1 Photos taken 09/05/10 and 01/16/06.
Continuing east on California 275, the Tower Bridge has a unique feel with yellow arches crossing the bridge's width. Photos taken 09/05/10 and 01/16/06.
The Tower Bridge offers a unique and beautiful approach into the city of Sacramento, the capital of the state of California and seat of Sacramento County. Sacramento was founded in 1849 and is the oldest incorporated city (on February 27, 1850). Voters adopted the current Sacramento City Charter in 1920. The Sacramento area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo Counties) is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of California (behind Greater Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego County) with a population in excess of 2.1 million. As of the 2000 Census, 407,018 people lived in the city of Sacramento. Photo taken 09/05/10.
After the final arch covering the road, the California state capitol building comes into view along eastbound California 275. From here, California 275 shifts onto the Capitol Mall from the Tower Bridge. Photos taken 09/05/10 and 01/16/06.
California 275 - Capitol Mall east
California 275 crosses the Sacramento Southern Railroad and approaches a signalized intersection with Front Street. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Interstate 5 and California 99 pass below California 275 at this bridge; there is no connection to the freeway until Fifth Street. Capitol Mall has three lanes in each direction on this, the original main street to the California state capitol. Photo taken 01/16/06.
A turf median serves as part of Capitol Mall as the gateway route approaches the Third Street traffic signal. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The next intersection is with Fourth Street, followed by Fifth Street. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Turn left (north) on Fifth Street to Interstate 5 and California 99 north via I Street westbound. This overhead sign refers to California 70 and not Interstate 5; it probably needs to be updated since California 70 does not enter Sacramento County anymore. California 275 continues east toward the state capitol. Photo taken 01/16/06.
Two blocks ahead, eastbound Capitol Mall intersects Seventh Street at this traffic signal. The state route ends in two blocks at Ninth Street. Photo taken 01/16/06.
California 275 and Capitol Mall end at Ninth Street. Turn right to connect to N Street to continue east around Capitol Mall. Photo taken 09/05/10.
The California state capitol building looms at the eastern end of Capitol Mall. The state legislature meets in this historic building, which was built to emulate the design of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Photo taken 09/05/10.
Towering above the mall, the capitol was built between 1861 and 1874 and is today listed on the National Historic Register and is a California Historic Landmark. Photo taken 09/05/10.
California 275 - Capitol Mall west
Traveling west on California 275 (Capitol Mall), the last signalized intersection before the Tower Bridge is with Front Street. Photo taken 01/16/06.
California 275 - Tower Bridge west
Westbound California 275 prepares to cross the Sacramento River via the picturesque Tower Bridge, which opened to traffic on December 15, 1935. The first exit upon crossing the bridge and entering the city of West Sacramento is West Capitol Avenue (Old U.S. 40-99W). Photo taken 01/16/06.
California 275 scenes
View of the California state capitol as seen from N Street looking north. Photo taken 01/16/06.
The former freeway section of California 275 between Business Loop I-80 in West Sacramento and the foot of the Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River, was decommissioned and returned to local maintenance in October 1999. However, the state route resumes to cross the river (the Tower Bridge is still under state maintenance and is considered part of California 275). These two pictures show a postmile marker located inside a fence along eastbound California 275 as it approaches the bridge. Photos taken by Jerry Mullady, 04/99.
This suite of photos shows the Tower Bridge at night as seen from the east bank of the Sacramento River in Old Sacramento. Photos taken 01/16/06.


  1. Tower Bridge History by Joel Windmiller (retrieved in 2006; no longer on the web)

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Page Updated July 25, 2012.

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