SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Tower Bridge was shut down around 9 a.m. Tuesday due to the middle span that was left suspended above the roadway after being raised.
Traffic resumed around 11 a.m.
The tower bridge can be raised numerous times a day allowing Sacramento River boat traffic to pass underneath, but Tuesday it stopped 18 inches from dropping back into place, stopping commute traffic for two hours.
Maintenance has been an ongoing issue with the Tower Bridge and other aging transportation infrastructure.
“Aging structures that need parts replacement, and in the Tower Bridge’s case you have to take into consideration that come December it’s 86 years old,” said Dennis Keaton, Caltrans public information officer.
The primary motor that raises the roadway was being repaired, it was the backup motor that failed Tuesday morning.
The Tower Bridge refurbishing project is part of a $24 million effort to make repairs on all moveable bridges in the Sacramento River Delta.
Once the gateway to the city, the bridge is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
While the Tower Bridge continues to be a marketing icon for the City of Sacramento, over the decades its role as a major transportation asset in the area has changed.
Motorists can still use the nearby Pioneer Freeway Bridge and the I Street bridge to cross the river when it’s closed.
The bridge is also closed for several days at a time when hundreds of diners take it over for the Tower Bridge Dinner during the annual Farm-to-Fork Festival with little impact on traffic.
The construction of a new bridge across the river north of the I Street bridge will give motorists, bikers and hikers yet another option.
The Tower Bridge is a registered historic asset, which means any redesign or major repair is restricted.
Caltrans has a list of repairs that need attention, the most urgent are being funded by a $54 million fund approved by the legislature in 2017.
But the final form of the federal infrastructure bill is eagerly awaited.
“There are a lot of projects on the books that are waiting to be funded that we hope to move forward with, and any federal help will be welcome,” Keaton said.
Sacramento’s new I Street bridge replacement will be paid mostly with local money, but state and federal funds are also needed to fully fund the $200 million project.