The Lake Natoma Bridge project in Folsom, California was built across the American River in order to relieve significant congestion. The new bridge is over 2,000 feet long and consists of 4 vehicle lanes, 2 bike lanes, 2 pedestrian lanes, and one reserved lane for future light rail or other high occupancy vehicles.
Project Type:Bridge Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:27,800 Length (mi):0.38
Economic Distress:1.04 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):1422 Population Growth Rate (%):1.62
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.45 Market Size:631,388 Airport Travel Distance:25 Topography:4
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:CA County:County
City:City of Folsom Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:38.704212 / -121.164030
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:2001
Constr. Start Date:1997 Constr. End Date:1999
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):53,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):75,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):100,608,879
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||10.54||9.72||20.26|
|Output (in $M's)||23.55||21.72||45.27|
The Lake Natoma Bridge project, located in Folsom, California, involved the construction of a new bridge across the American River as well as new commuter arteries connecting to this bridge. The project was originally planned in the mid-1980's, although construction did not begin until the spring of 1997. The new Bridge is over 2,000 feet long and consists of 4 vehicle lanes, 2 bike lanes, 2 pedestrian lanes, and one reserved lane for future light rail or other high occupancy vehicles. The project was completed in August 1999 and cost roughly $75 million ($1997).
The bridge brought benefits to commuters who traveled through Folsom as well as businesses in the Historic District, which experienced significant congestion that deterred customers prior to the bridge's construction. Of the roughly 300 jobs in the Folsom historic district, it is estimated that roughly 50 jobs would have been lost due to the detrimental impacts of congestion if the project had not been built. The bridge alleviated this congestion, and thus can be credited for saving those jobs. Furthermore, the Lake Natoma Bridge accelerated the development of higher-end commercial space along Folsom Boulevard, and thus spurred the creation of 116 new jobs that have recently been established in the Park Shore development.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Lake Natoma Bridge spans the American River in Folsom, California. Folsom, located in Sacramento County, is a suburb of the City of Sacramento, approximately 20 miles to the southwest, and part of the Sacramento Metropolitan Area. The city is split by the American River, which runs from Folsom Lake just north of the city southwest through Sacramento. The river separates the center of Folsom from the eastern portion of the city, and from the neighboring Sacramento suburb of Orangevale. At the time the bridge was constructed, there were two other river crossings in Folsom.
Folsom is served by the Sacramento Regional Transit District's light rail system, as well as the Folsom Stage Line, a local bus system. Folsom is also adjacent to California Highway 50, which runs west along the American River into Sacramento and east into Eldorado National Forest. Folsom is roughly 30 miles east of the major regional airport in Sacramento.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Folsom, California is a city in Sacramento County with an estimated population of 72,590 in 2008, a 40% increase from a year 2000 population of 51,884. A suburb of Sacramento, Folsom is part of the Sacramento Metropolitan Area, which had a total population of 1,796,857 in 2000 and 2,136,604 in 2009 (+19%).
Folsom is home to the Sacramento area's largest employer, Intel. Employment in Folsom grew by 40% between 2000 and 2007, from nearly 22,000 to over 31,000.
Folsom was originally home to miners who moved to California during the Gold Rush. While few got rich from gold, the city grew as the railroad was built to connect Folsom to Sacramento. The city's most well-known institution, Folsom Prison, was established in 1880, becoming a major employer for the City. Folsom Dam was built in 1956, creating one of Folsom Lake. The natural beauty of the lake and the American River, as well as the historic character of Folsom, have made the City a tourist destination in California.
The Lake Natoma Bridge project involved the construction of a new bridge over the American River, as well as improvements to commuter arteries connecting to the bridge. The 2,230 foot bridge has 4 vehicle lanes, as well as 2 pedestrian and 2 bicycle lanes, and an open lane for possible future use for light rail or another high occupancy vehicle option. The project also included approximately 3,000 feet of construction on connecting roads to the bridge, including a new 4-lane, grade-separated artery running from the south end of the bridge, skirting the historic district and eventually reconnecting to Folsom Boulevard. The bridge was completed in August of 1999, and cost of roughly $75 million $1997.)
At the time the bridge was constructed, there were two other river crossings in Folsom: the Rainbow Bridge near Folsom's Historic district, and Dam Road, which crossed at the Folsom Dam. The existing crossings faced serious congestion issues. The lack of easy transport across the river caused a feeling of isolation for Folsom residents east of the river, and created a feeling of disconnect with the neighboring Sacramento suburb of Orangevale. Backup on the Rainbow Bridge into the Historic District hurt local businesses.
The new bridge was built not only to reduce congestion, but also to provide a better commuting route across the river and travel flexibility for the region's workers and employers. Another goal of the bridge was the addition of pedestrian, bicycle and future light rail connections.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The Lake Natoma Bridge has had a significant impact on transportation flows within Folsom, relieving regional commute congestion on the Rainbow Bridge and in the historic district, and making the district more business and visitor friendly. The bridge also helped to connect the two sides of town and form a more cohesive community within Folsom.
Since 1999, when the bridge was completed, growth has been significant in the area, making the bridge even more vital to mitigating the effects of growing regional congestion. In fact, given recent growth and the closure of Dam Road for security reasons in 2003, an additional bridge, Folsom Lake Crossing, was constructed and completed in March 2009. This new bridge is north of Rainbow Bridge, just downriver from Dam Road. Roughly one-third of all bridge traffic (on Rainbow, Lake Natoma and now Folsom Lake Crossing) is through-commuters who do not live or work in Folsom. Average daily traffic on the Lake Natoma Bridge as of January 2010 was 27,800 vehicles. Similarly, Rainbow Bridge average daily traffic was roughly 25,000 vehicles in November 2009.
The Lake Natoma Bridge was designed to carry light-rail and shortly after it was completed, the light rail was extended to the bridge. However, there has not been demand for the rail to continue across the bridge to development on the opposite side. It is expected that as future growth occurs, demand will increase and rail might be built. The bridge, however, is well-used by pedestrians and cyclists.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
There have not been any major shifts in employment or demographics directly due to the Lake Natoma Bridge. However, the bridge had a significant role in alleviating congestion in the historic district, which has greatly affected businesses in the district. In addition, the bridge has caused broader development and land use shifts related to residential and commercial development.
Today, 10 years after the Natoma Bridge's construction there is very little commuter traffic in the Historic District. The bridge provides a dedicated off-ramp for District traffic to ensure that local traffic still has access. While current vacancy rates in the Historic District are low, there has not been a significant increase in property values or dramatic growth. According to the Historic District Association there are currently 89 businesses in the District, which has been relatively stable number over the past decade. Most of the businesses in the District are boutiques that are owner-operated. Exceptions include the nine bars, seventeen restaurants and one inn, which employ multiple workers. The historic district supports an estimated 300 jobs. As stated, the district has been relatively stable over the past decade; however interviews confirmed that the Lake Natoma Bridge has allowed it to continue to flourish, instead of decline. Of the roughly 500 jobs in the Folsom Historic District, it is estimated that roughly 50 jobs would have been lost due to detrimental impact from congestion if the bridge had not been built. Furthermore, in the past two years, the District has begun to engage in streetscape and fa?ade improvements along with an $8 million dollar infrastructure project to improve the sewer, electricity and fire / safety systems. The City is also in the early phases of developing a plaza in the District, which should break-ground in Spring 2012.
While the Bridge's most significant impact was on the Historic District, the Lake Natoma Bridge has also encouraged commercial development in the area, primarily supporting the business and industrial parks which line Folsom Boulevard, the approach to the Lake Natoma Bridge. The Silverbrook/Park Shore Area and Lake Forest Business Park have both benefitted from increased access and their convenient location along the improved Folsom Boulevard. In 2008, the Park Shore area added eight new three-to-four thousand square foot office buildings, which house approximately 116 new employees. While the office parks existed prior to the bridge, office spaces built after the bridge's construction have tended to be higher-value, with rents per square foot averaging 50-100% higher than many of the offices built prior to the bridge. Interviewees indicated that this increase is in part related to bridge access, which has made the business parks more desirable to higher end tenants.
The Lake Natoma Bridge and nearby Folsom Lake Bridge also have supported regional residential development. According to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Economic Development, who worked in the Public Works Department during the time the bridge was constructed, residential growth throughout nearby Placer County has grown due to increased commuter capacity and reduced congestion. Many Placer County residents commute to Sacramento, thus good highway access is critical. An indication of this post-bridge growth can be seen in the Placer County median home price which was $193,000 in 1999 and increased to $412,000 in 2004. While not all a direct result of the project, the Lake Natoma Bridge provided a key commuter route that helped facilitate significant growth and residential appeal throughout nearby Placer County.
The 2008-2010 economic recession has slowed economic growth and property value increases in the office parks located near the bridge and in the Downtown Historic District.
American Fact Finder, 2000 and 1990 US Census http://factfinder.census.gov
CC Myers Inc., Lake Natoma/American River Bridge,http://www.ccmyers.com/completedprojects.cfm?ID=2
County Business Patterns, Folsom Zip Codes: 95630, 95763http://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/index.html
Jones and Stokes Associates, Environmental Impact Statement, American River Bridge Crossing Project, Folsom CA.,Sacramento CA.
Placer County Economic Development, 2010 Economic and Demographic Profile http://www.placer.ca.gov/~/media/ceo/ecd/documents/2010%20Placer%20County%20Economic%20and%20Demographic%20Profile.ashxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folsom,_California http://files.myfolsom.com/lakenatomacrossing.shtml
OrganizationFolsom Chamber of Commerce Folsom Historic District Folsom Intergovernmental Affairs and Economic Development Snook's Chocolate Shop