Tower Bridge (California)

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Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge Sacramento edit.jpg
The Tower Bridge just after sunset
Coordinates 38°34′50″N 121°30′30″W / 38.580556°N 121.508333°W / 38.580556; -121.508333Coordinates: 38°34′50″N 121°30′30″W / 38.580556°N 121.508333°W / 38.580556; -121.508333
Tower Bridge
Architect A. Teichert & Son, Inc.
Architectural style Span Drive Type
Governing body State of California
NRHP Reference # 82004845
Designated  1982
Carries Cars, pedestrians, and previously railroad
Crosses Sacramento River
Locale West Sacramento and Sacramento, California
Maintained by Caltrans
Design vertical lift bridge
Total length 737 ft (225 m)
Width 52 ft (16 m)
Clearance below 100 ft (30 m) above high water
Construction cost US$666,000
Opened December 15, 1935

The Tower Bridge is a vertical lift bridge across the Sacramento River, linking West Sacramento in Yolo County to the west, with the capital of California, Sacramento, in Sacramento County to the east. It was previously a part of U.S. Route 40 until that highway was truncated east of Salt Lake City. The bridge is yet maintained by the California Department of Transportation as part of State Route 275, and connects West Capitol Avenue and Tower Bridge Gateway in West Sacramento with the Capitol Mall in Sacramento.

In 1982, the Tower Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[3]


Developing the bridge[edit]

In 1911, construction was completed on the M Street Bridge in Sacramento.[4] In 1933, the city realized that it needed a better crossing over the Sacramento River in case of war, and that the existing bridge was highly inadequate to handle heavy traffic.[1]

On December 22, 1933, the State of California, Sacramento County, and the Sacramento Northern Railway held a conference to plan the new bridge.


The Tower Bridge raised halfway

It was to be 52 ft (16 m) wide, with four lanes for cars, and one large center lane for trains. The towers are 160 ft (49 m). The bridge style represents a rare use of Streamline Moderne architectural styling in a lift bridge, making it an outstanding expression of the social and architectural climate of the period of construction.[1]

On December 15, 1935, then-governor Frank Merriam dedicated the bridge. The Tower Bridge was the first vertical lift bridge in the California Highway System.

Repainting the bridge[edit]

For years, the bridge was painted silver, but people complained about glare off the bridge. In June 1976 it was painted a yellow-ochre color, to be representative of the gold leafed cupola on the nearby State Capitol.[citation needed]

In 2001, as the old paint job could hardly be distinguished, residents who lived within 35 mi (56 km) of the capital voted on a new color scheme. Their choices were burgundy, green, silver and gold; or all gold. The winning color was all gold, and it was repainted in 2002. However, that did not lessen the bridge's color controversy. Some people complained that the new paint was not as gilded as advertised. Others have suggested that copper would have been a far better color choice, especially in the context of nearby buildings. The new coat is expected to last 30 years.[citation needed]

2007 revitalization[edit]

Currently, the bridge is used for pedestrian and vehicle traffic only. In 2007, regional transportation agencies were considering the possibility of adding trolley traffic across the bridge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "History of the Tower Bridge". Bridges over the Sacramento River. Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Tower Bridge (California) at Structurae
  3. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Historic Highway Bridges of California, California Department of Transportation, 1990

External links[edit]