Back-Seat Driver

City creates new entrance to Old Sacramento

Vintage cars, some of them over 100 years old, make their way through Old Sacramento during the Great Race on Saturday, June 19, 2016.
Vintage cars, some of them over 100 years old, make their way through Old Sacramento during the Great Race on Saturday, June 19, 2016.

For years, the only ways you could get into Old Sacramento have been through mouse-hole routes under the freeway and a side door near Tower Bridge. It’s unbecoming, and it’s confused plenty of tourists.

Now, Old Sacramento has what you could call a front door.

The city just finished building a $13.5 million bridge into the old town from Capitol Mall next to Interstate 5. It’s not fancy or big (and could use an entrance arch over it), but at least it’s not hidden. It actually curves over the freeway rather than under.

Cyclists and pedestrians can use it now. It will open to cars on Thursday, with a new signalized intersection on Capitol Mall.

The project is part of an effort to connect the city better with its waterfront areas.

“We’re taking down barriers,” said Jerry Way, the city public works director.

The city also widened sidewalks on Capitol Mall and O Street over the freeway, and added bike lanes.

The next step? Extending N Street over the freeway to connect to the riverfront south of the Embassy Suites hotel, and add a Second Street connection from there to Capitol Mall from the south side, serving as a bookend to the one that opens Thursday.

Officials once considered building a big concrete deck over the sunken portion of I-5, both north and south of the Capitol Mall freeway overpass, to reconnect the waterfront. But that ambitious idea proved far too expensive.

SacPark app is here

Welcome to the new downtown arena era. Last week, the city extended parking meter hours to 10 p.m. in downtown and to 8 p.m. in a slice of midtown. Other midtown meters still run only to 6 p.m. Residential parking-permit areas will be enforced as well to 10 p.m. in much of the central city.

Parking cops won’t issue post-6 p.m. citations until October, a few days before the arena opens.

New technology will make downtown garage use easier for arena attendees. Nine-second transaction times expected, instead of thirty to sixty seconds at the former Sleep Train Arena. Matt Eierman, city parking chief, explains.

The city also just introduced a useful bit of technology for people who choose to park in garages. It’s a reservation system called SacPark. You can find it on the city website at

SacPark allows you to reserve and prepay for a spot weeks in advance in downtown garages. I checked it Friday for the arena’s opening-night Paul McCartney concert. It listed 12 garages, where they are in relation to the arena and what they charge. It ranged from $10.50 for a garage at Eighth and J streets, three blocks from the arena, to $25 for a garage a block away.

The city is also pitching the website for people who attend events at Memorial Auditorium and the Sacramento Convention Center.

SacPark will be expanded to an app for smartphones later this month.

Separately, the city recently introduced an app called Parkmobile, which allows you to pay for a street-meter spot and to add time to the meter even beyond its regular limit. The regular hourly rate is $1.75. At a two-hour meter, you can buy a third hour sitting at your restaurant table, but that hour costs $3.00, with a 35-cent processing fee added on.

At some point, city officials want to merge SacPark and Parkmobile into one app.

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