Back-Seat Driver

Eisenhower’s Sacramento whistle stop commemorated at downtown depot

Crews recently finished refurbishing the Sacramento Valley Station ceiling as part of a $30 million depot remodeling project at Fourth and I streets.
Crews recently finished refurbishing the Sacramento Valley Station ceiling as part of a $30 million depot remodeling project at Fourth and I streets. tbizjak@sacbee.com

Ike was here. OK, that’s not news now. The president’s train visit happened 60 years ago.

But, digging through archives, city officials recently found a panoramic photo of the moment in 1955 when thousands of Sacramentans came to the depot to watch and wave as Dwight D. Eisenhower came through on a “whistle stop” visit.

The photo will be turned into a mural for a wall in the west wing of the building. It’s a small part of the $30 million renovation project underway at Sacramento Valley Station at Fourth and I streets.

Project manager Greg Taylor said the mural could be in place in mid-March when the city opens a new Amtrak ticketing area in that wing, replacing the ticketing booths that have stood for decades at the back of the central hall. The switch allows the city to tear down the old booths and reopen the station’s original row of rear exits, which are boarded up and hidden behind the current booths.

The renovation is scheduled to be finished in December. It will be a mix of old and new. City officials hope to land a restaurant, and possibly a rooftop terrace bar with one of the better views of the city. There will be several floors of offices. There will be 200 bike racks around a new back patio, and Taylor says he is hoping a glass-walled room can be turned into a cafe or a “bikes and brew” spot.

Meadowview Road cemetery

Cars go fast on Meadowview Road in south Sacramento. That’s what you get when you have a wide, flat, straight road between two freeways. “Pedestrians and cyclists don’t feel safe,” city project manager Cecilyn Foote said.

Now, as part of a safety push for walkers and bikers in neighborhoods, the city is planning enhancements along the corridor, starting with $2.4 million of improvements near Pannell Community Center.

The work likely won’t start until 2017, though. That’s partly because, in doing research, the city discovered there was an old cemetery at one time at the northwest corner lot at 24th Street and Meadowview.

Foote said the city believes the remains, possibly a family plot, were exhumed years ago. “We don’t believe anything is there,” she said. But the city still needs to dig around a bit to make sure before working at that corner.

The planned improvements include painting pavement markings on the street to create a 2-foot-wide buffer between cars and cyclists. Safety improvements also will be made on 24th Street between Florin and Meadowview roads.

Vinci Avenue Bridge

The Vinci Avenue Bridge in North Sacramento is not up there in prominence with, say, Tower Bridge.

It’s tiny. So is the recent street improvement project there. But locals are pleased. For years, big-rig trucks from businesses on the street had to go through a residential area to get to Interstate 80 because the street didn’t actually connect to the little bridge over Magpie Creek.

The city finally came up with $500,000. A few businesses chipped in $50,000. They cut the ribbon last week. The project shaved maybe a couple of minutes off the drive time. But the trucks no longer rumble past as many homes. Even though the distance saved is short, if you tally multiple daily truck trips, the greenhouse gas emission reductions add up.

“You get bang for your buck,” said city engineer Philip Vulliet, the project manager. “On top of this, I think it will spur investment on the street.”

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