A long-abandoned pier in West Sacramento’s Bridge District could see new life as an attraction for pedestrians and anglers in a proposed city project to rehabilitate the dock.
The Mill Street Pier juts out over the Sacramento River below Riverfront Street and is today closed to the public. The old 120-foot-long concrete pier stretching out over the water has seen better days, certainly busier ones in its previous life years ago as a loading dock for a riverside rice mill.
Many of the wooden pilings and structures that support the pier are intact, but, today, it sits alone on the 5 acres of open field that city planners envision as River Walk Park. Chain-link fencing instead of sacks of grain sit on its 18-foot-wide deck, blocking off the pier to pedestrians.
But West Sacramento aims to change that, with plans to add handrails for safety, reinforce the pier with another layer of concrete and install eight light standards to illuminate the pier deck, the better to see the former rice mill pier as a pedestrian overlook and fishing spot.
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The city sees the old pier as another piece of West Sacramento’s ongoing efforts to convert its industrial waterfront to residential neighborhoods, recreation areas and green space, and as a link to the nearby Bridge District and to the River Walk Trail.
City staffers said they were encouraged by the “surprisingly robust” condition of the pier and structures in a January report to council members, but that more upgrades are needed to make the pier accessible to those with disabilities and further shore up the structures that support it.
“The structure remaining is sound, but needs some strengthening. We can use the existing piles. We want to give more access to the pier itself,” said Denix Anbiah, West Sacramento’s public works director. “It is a good overlook for the public.”
Just upstream from Mill Street at Raley’s Landing, folks were taking their noontime stroll or getting in a run along the river.
Cheri Johnson of Sacramento took a break from her job at the state Department of General Services to snap candid shots of a white heron resting on a piling just off shore. She liked the idea of a pedestrian dock on the water, but seemed as concerned about the drought and its effect on the waterway.
“I think it’s great. I just hope the water fills up again,” Johnson said. She also said she has been impressed with how the West Sacramento riverfront has changed and said walkers will follow the development downriver in the Bridge District.
“People seem to feel more comfortable walking down that way,” Johnson said.
The pier’s plans come as construction crews continue to build the apartments and other residences that are giving shape to the Bridge District. A bit farther downstream, crews recently cleared out towering cement silos to make room for future development on the city’s Pioneer Bluff and opened the Mike McGowan Bridge connecting the city’s Southport neighborhoods to the waterfront.
But the fate of the pier project, estimated at nearly $954,000, hinges on grant funding, Anbiah said. The city has applied for $475,000 in federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grants, with awards to be announced in May.
If West Sacramento wins the funding, workers could be on the job by summer, Anbiah said. If the city can’t secure the grant, the project will go on the shelf. But Anbiah said West Sacramento will continue to pursue funding if the federal dollars fail to come through.
“We’re continuously monitoring” funding sources, Anbiah said. “If it’s available, we will go after it.”
Al and Ro Giencke hope it happens. The couple are visiting Northern California from Plymouth, Minn., near Minneapolis. They spent the early part of Friday in Old Sacramento, but were drawn to the green space across the water at Raley’s Landing and were intrigued by the idea of a pier nearby.
“We saw this and it was a magnet. A lot of cities try to reclaim their green space – Minneapolis does that.” Giencke said. “What happens at a pier is that you socialize. You’ve got time, so you meet people. It’s a melting pot. It’s more than a pier, it’s a cultural area.”
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.