City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

City Beat: Sacramento State bridge to soon get makeover

05/19/2014 12:00 AM

05/18/2014 7:33 PM

Everything around the Guy West Bridge is pleasing to look at. Everything but the bridge itself.

The slim and shaky footbridge crossing the American River at Sacramento State needs some love. Paint is fading and chipping on the towers, and the handrails need to be fixed. The city says it’s planning to spend more than $3 million on a makeover this summer, and crews are already out there getting ready.

“It’s worth it,” Pam Sechrist said. “It’s one of our landmarks and we need to keep it in shape.”

It was a cloudless, warm morning last week as Sechrist finished her daily walk over the bridge with Tess, her lively Jack Russell Terrier/Chihuahua mix. Waves of college students joined her, hurrying across the span to their 9 a.m. classes. Cyclists and joggers weaved through the traffic.

No one was looking at the bridge.

That’s too bad. When it was built in 1966, it was thought to be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the country. And it was designed to look like the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge’s official color is “International Orange.” It is an unmistakable color, designed to create a connection between the striking bridge and the landscape around it.

The Guy West Bridge is supposed to be that same color. Instead, after years of fading, its coat looks more like the skin of an old Barbie doll.

Some have suggested painting the Guy West a brilliant yellow, like the city’s true landmark crossing, the Tower Bridge. Others have mentioned throwing in a touch of Hornet green to salute Sac State.

The city is sticking with the original shade of orange. If all goes well, the new paint job will be done by the fall, along with a touched-up deck and a revamped electrical system.

It’s a sizable investment as other projects around the city are slowly receiving attention. Nearby, the city has found the cash to pave a bike trail on the south shore of the American River between Sac State and Sutter’s Landing Park in midtown.

Spend a few minutes on the Guy West Bridge – and count the walkers, riders and Jack Russell Terriers – and you’ll see why the bridge is on the list, too.

William Palmer rides his bike over the span almost every day as he heads from his home in east Sacramento to the American River Parkway. As he did on that clear morning last week, he sometimes pauses for water breaks at the midway point.

“We have so few places like this,” he said.

There isn’t a better spot to see the sunrise. Sechrist likes to head over to the bridge and watch Fourth of July fireworks. Standing on the span provides a lovely view of the river as its form and flow change with the seasons.

And someday soon, it might also be worth looking at the bridge.

About This Blog

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Sacramento Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at or 916-321-1085. Twitter: @Ryan_Lillis.

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