About three miles of the new Village Parkway in West Sacramento opened Friday morning, completing the first phase of the Southport Levee Improvement Project designed to better protect residents from floodwater.
While it will provide better access for construction workers on part of the old levees along the Sacramento River, the road is also expected to reduce traffic on heavily used Jefferson Boulevard.
“These levee roads are really narrow and dangerous,” said West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle. “This will be much safer for cyclists and ideally when this project is completed we’ll be able to have a Class 1 bicycle lane on top of the new setback levee.”
The levee project will cost over $200 million, split between the West Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency and the state Department of Water Resources, according to West Sacramento Flood Protection Manager Greg Fabun.
Builders have been waiting until the roadwork was finished to create a new setback levee behind the current levee as well as the cutouts, which will allow water to flow through the current levee as the water level fluctuates.
Village Parkway is replacing South River Road, which runs atop the current levee.
About 12 homes were displaced or relocated because of the project, but Fabun said the city was able to reduce the project’s impact on the surrounding area by minimizing the grade on the levee’s side, saving three to five houses.
The setback levee plan was inspired by national efforts to improve the safety of waterfront cities after the catastrophic destruction Hurricane Katrina inflicted on New Orleans in 2005.
Fabun said he hopes the project can also open up recreational opportunities such as walking trails and fishing.
Village Parkway will be fully completed once its southern section is connected to its northern branch, expected this fall.