SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — When construction began on June 20, 1934, the city of Sacramento had no idea that Tower Bridge would become California’s shortest state route at just under .14 miles.
In 2010, the California Legislature reinstated state Route 275 as the length of Tower Bridge from the east end of the bridge to the west end.
According to Caltrans, California state Route 153 in Coloma was designated as the shortest state route in California at .5 miles.
Since 1911, the M Street Bridge had served the rail needs and motoring needs of Sacramento, but the increased traffic loads required a new bridge to be built.
So during the Great Depression the estimated cost of Tower Bridge was $700,000 and when designs were completed the cost of the bridge jumped to $900,000 ($19.4 million in 2022 money), according to the Sacramento History Museum.
Some funding for the project came from the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act which was a precursor to Work Progress Administration that funded many Depression Era public work projects, according to California Office of Historic Preservation State Historian William Burg.
The bridge’s art deco streamline moderne design was completed by State Department of Public Works architect Alfred Eichler and construction was undertaken by George Pollock & Company, according to Burg.
At least 1,500 men worked on the project with 130 working on the bridge during the 16 months of construction until the bridge was completed on March 11, 1935, according to the Sacramento History Museum.
Like the M Street Bridge, the newly completed Tower Bridge supported a rail line for the electrified Sacramento Northern Railway in the center of the bridge and roadways on the flanks of the bridge, according to Burg.
According to the Western Railway Museum, The railway started running passenger trains between Chico and San Francisco in 1928. It was the fastest way to get from San Francisco to Sacramento at the time with a journey taking two hours and forty-seven minutes.
By 1941, the railway stopped running passenger trains and in the early 1960’s the rails along Tower Bridge were poured over to allow automobile traffic to use the center section of the bridge, according to Burg.
Those tracks were not removed until 2000, Burg said.
When Tower Bridge opened it was in the same spot as the former M Street Bridge and aligned with state Route 99 west and US 40, according to Caltrans.
In 1967, state Route 275 was outlined as being from the junction of Capitol Avenue and Ninth Street to Interstate 80 near Jefferson Boulevard.
This route lasted in its entirety until 1996 when it was decommissioned by the California Legislature.
Nearly 14 years later in 2010, the California Legislature amended the Streets and Highways code so that “Route 275 is the Tower Bridge from the west side of the Sacramento River near the City of West Sacramento to the east side of the Sacramento River near the city of Sacramento.”