Interstate 80 has 20 business loops, including the original Business Loop I-80 Freeway in Sacramento (Capital City Freeway).
More on Sacramento's Business Loop I-80
Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento is a Business Loop Freeway created in 1982 and renamed the Capital City Freeway in 1996. It is routed with Interstate 305 and U.S. 50 on western leg and California 51 on eastern leg. The eastern leg is not in the Interstate System due to substandard construction (narrow shoulders, poor sight distances, and the Marconi Curve). According to the California State Highway System Signing Log (October, 1991), Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento runs from "Interstate 80 near West Sacramento over Legislative U.S. 50 to Legislative 50/51/99 Separation and over Legislative State Route 51 to Interstate 80 east of Watt Avenue."
Interstate Business Loop 80 is locally referred to as "Business 80" or "Biz 80," was created in 1981 by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with the agreement of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). AASHTO is involved with creating business loop designations, and it approved the rerouting of Interstate 80 and Interstate 880 that allowed for the creation of Business 80.
According to Joe Rouse, "the choice of Business 80 was made with the idea of making it easier to get into town (after all, it is posted as the exit for Sacramento at its termini)." However, motorist confusion reigned. In 1996, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) decided to name the entire Interstate Business Loop 80 freeway as the Capital City Freeway. This designation came about in response to complaints from travelers who found it difficult to follow Business 80. This redesignation may have cost around $150,000, but this has not been substantiated. However, even with the new name, traffic reporters alternately refer to Business Loop I-80 by its numerical designation or by its relatively new name. However, most Sacramentans know what to call the business loop when giving directions to people from out of town.
On northbound Interstate 5 approaching the freeway two overhead signs were completely replaced with new ones bearing the new name (along with the shields). Prior to the Capital City Freeway designation, Business 80 had a host of names. In addition to the colloquial names listed above (WX, 29/30), the business loop was also known as the West Sacramento Freeway between Interstate 80 west and Interstate 5 and as the Elvas Freeway south of California State Route 160. It was the State Freeway between California State Route 160 and the Interstate 80 / California State Route 244 junction. Around the Marconi exit is the infamous "Marconi Curve," which is almost always mentioned as a trouble spot during the rush hours. The "WX" is so named because the freeway overlays the block between W and X Streets, and the "29/30" is so named because the freeway overlays the block between 29th and 30th Streets. Incidentally, when I lived in Sacramento I never heard a traffic reporter refer to Business 80 as the "Elvas Freeway."
As defined in the California State Highway Code, legislative Route 51 is to be signed and designated as "Interstate Business Loop 80." Route 51 runs from the U.S. 50/California 99/Bus. 80 junction northeast to the Interstate 80/California 244 (Auburn Blvd.) junction along the Elvas Freeway. To complete the loop, the section of Route 50 between the Interstate 80/U.S. 50 junction in West Sacramento and the U.S. 50/California State Route 99/Bus. 80 junction is signed and designated Bus. 80 and U.S. 50.
Joe Rouse provides some history on Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento. Around 1964, Interstate 80 made its first appearance in Sacramento, following the old joint section of U.S. 40 and U.S. 99E and a section of U.S. 99E across the American River into downtown. The Interstate 880 bypass around Sacramento is planned but unbuilt. A year or two later, a plan to bypass the existing Interstate 80 with a new alignment was put forward by what is now called Caltrans. The new alignment was to start in the median of Interstate 880 from the 80/880 junction in northeast Sacramento in a dual freeway design. It would then separate onto an alignment parallel to the Southern Pacific Railroad mainline all the way to where it would rejoin the old Interstate 80 alignment just south of the American River. From here south into downtown another dual freeway design will be used. The bypass was needed because the existing Interstate 80 alignment doesn't meet Interstate standards.
The "FAU 6380" designation was used for the old alignment while the new alignment was still on the books during the 1960s and 1970s. It is doubtful that FAU 6380 was ever planned to become Interstate 380, since Interstate 380 in San Francisco came into use sometime in the 1970s so it could not have been named that. In addition, the old alignment did not meet Interstate standards. It is unclear what the bypassed old alignment would have been called.
In 1969, construction was well underway on Interstate 880. The dual freeway design on Interstate 880 is part of this construction. By 1972, the Interstate 880 bypass was completed. The portion of the new Interstate 80 alignment within the Interstate 880 median is completed but not opened to traffic. It ends at a long bridge going nowhere just past where it leaves Interstate 880. Numerous problems hinder completion of the new alignment.
During the 1970s, Northern California Interstate construction and planning proceeding, albeit with many proverbial bumps in the road. By the late 1970s, there were seven Interstate x80 numbers in use and one available. Here is a brief summary:
- California 180 was an original legislative route that ran east-west through Fresno. Since Caltrans does not allow duplicate numbers, an Interstate 180 routing is not available. Interstate 180 would be used temporarily in the early 1980s, but never signed.
- Interstate 280 ran from U.S. 101 in San Jose north to Third Street just south of downtown San Francisco with a planned connection to Interstate 80 and the SF Bay Bridge.
- Interstate 380 ran from U.S. 101 near the SF International Airport to Interstate 280 in San Bruno, with a planned connection to California State Route 1 in Pacifica.
- California 480 ran from Interstate 80 at the Bay Bridge on the SF side to the Embacadero area. Prior to 1965, California State Route 480 was a chargeable Interstate. However, since it was not completed due to local oppostion, California State Route 480 was not granted chargeable Interstate status. However, even after 1965 there could not be another Interstate 480 because it would duplicate California 480.
- Interstate 580 ran from Interstate 80 at the Bay Bridge on the Oakland side southeast to Hayward, then due east toward Tracy and Modesto.
- Interstate 680 ran from Interstate 80 south to San Jose through the East Bay.
- Interstate 780 connected Interstate 80 and Interstate 680 near Vallejo.
- Interstate 880 was the Sacramento Bypass.
- Interstate 980 was unused.
For more background on these California Interstates, check out Daniel Faigin's Chargeable and Non-Chargeable Interstate Highways page. It explains the difference between chargeable and non-chargeable Interstate highways and lists which highways were approved as Interstates and which highways were denied. This list shows that only 980 was available for use as an Interstate x80 number in 1979.
It was at this time that the proposed new Interstate 80 alignment suffered its biggest blow of all. The Sacramento City Council, in a historic first, voted that year to delete the new Interstate 80 alignment and use the funding and right-of-way for a rail transit system. Prior to 1979, no other city had ever done this. The right-of-way of Interstate 80 that had been partially built by 1979 is now used by Sacramento's light rail system.
This realignment was from the northeast Interstate 80/880 junction to the then-Interstate 80 freeway just north of downtown Sacramento. From the northeast 80/880 Sacramento junction to this proposed realignment, the then-Interstate 80 freeway was signed as Interstate 80, but was not on the Interstate system. The realignment was, but it wasn't built (and wasn't going to be built). At this time, the then-Interstate 80 freeway through Sacramento also carried California State Legislative Route Number 80 on the state highway system.
In 1980, the following year, the new Interstate 80 alignment was withdrawn from the Interstate system. The need for route continuity for Interstate 80 meant that Interstate 880 is redesignated as Interstate 80 by FHWA and AASHTO. The original incarnation of Interstate 880 in California was therefore decommissioned as a result of that action in 1980. The portion of existing Interstate 80 from where the new alignment would have come in south of the American River to Highway 99 is withdrawn from the Interstate system and classified as FAP Route 51. The portion of Interstate 80 from Highway 99 west to the 80/880 junction in West Sacramento is retained in the Interstate system as Interstate 305 (FAI 305). No signage changes take place, however, because 80 and 880 remain in their original alignments in the state highway system. State Highway changes would not take place until 1982.
This realignment of route numbers shows that the idea that Interstate 880 was stolen from Sacramento and given to the Bay Area is false -- Interstate 880 was not in use in California for at least two years (1980-1982).
The 1980 FHWA action made no change to the classification of FAU 6380. In order to ensure FAP continuity in Sacramento, FAP 51 is extended over FAU 6380. Again, there is no signage change. This did not occur until the passage of SB 91. State Senate Bill 191 (1981) made several changes in the highway system to reflect the FHWA actions. Resignage results. 880 is deleted from the state highway system; 80 is rerouted over it. The FAP 51 segment of the old 80 alignment is renumbered as State Route 51.
FAI 305 is renumbered as a westward extension of U.S. 50. All of the old 80 alignment will be signed as Interstate Business Loop 80 per AASHTO approval. FAI 305 was never signed as Interstate 305. However, the FAI designation remains in place to this day. Therefore, it is correct to state that Interstate 305 indeed exists between the Interstate 80/U.S. 50 interchange in West Sacramento and the State Route 99/U.S. 50/State Route 51 interchange near downtown Sacramento. According to Joe Rouse, the Interstate 305 designation is only a federal designation, and is used for funding purposes only. The state route number is 50 and that is how Caltrans refers to it, even though it is primarily signed as Business Loop I-80. There have not been and there are still no Interstate 305 shields on it at all. The Interstate 305 designation has only appeared on a couple of local street maps, and that was years ago.
By 1982, the routes affected by SB 191 were completely signed and marked. It was not until the following year, 1983, when Caltrans asked FHWA and AASHTO to add new routes to the Interstate system in the Bay Area. The requests were: renumber Interstate 180 as an extension of Interstate 580; designate California State Route 17 from San Jose to Oakland as Interstate 880; and change the freeway portion of California State Route 238 near Hayward to Interstate 238. These requests are approved, resulting in FAP routes 238, 580, and 880. Again, no signage changes are made because the changes had not been made in the state highway system. Interstate 180 may have been signed, but if so, it was brief. Interstate 180 violated California's number duplication policy (since there is a State Route 180 through Fresno in Central California). However, Interstate 180 was classified as Route 17 in the state highway system and was mostly signed as State Route 17. FHWA had classified it as FAI 180. The route was not full freeway through Richmond - it became full freeway in the late 1990s. Perhaps for this reason it was reclassified as FAP 580 (rather than FAI 580).
Postmiles on Interstate 80 around Sacramento are designated with the letter "M.". All non-prefixed mileages are 1964 mileages. If a segment has been realigned since 1964, the realigned portion uses the prefix "R" and postmile "equations" (the ahead (AHD)/back (BK)) are used where the realigned portion leaves and rejoins the original alignment. If that first realignment is again realigned this second realignment has the prefix "M". And again a PM equation is used where the second realignment leaves and joins the first realignment.
Based on the rules above, the mileage of the first realignment of Interstate 80 (the partially-built-but-never-opened Interstate 80 bypass) was designated with the "R" prefix, starting roughly at the 1964 PM 4.0 or PM 4.5. The bypass would have joined Interstate 880 just east of Watt at PM R10.66 and Business Loop Interstate 80 at PM R11.27, which was equal to 1964 PM 11.68. Due to the fact that the Interstate 80 bypass was supposed to connect with Interstate 880 west of Business Loop Interstate 80, PM R10.66 to R11.27 is technically first realignment mileage even though it was signed Interstate 880.
The second realignment of Interstate 80 was onto the Interstate 880 alignment. That's why that portion is prefixed "M". There are some PM markers on that segment that do not have the M and just have the extra "8" in the route number whited-out. The portion of Interstate 80 in Yolo County that was realigned onto Interstate 880 uses "R" prefixes.
Returning to our chronology, in 1984, State Assembly Bill 2741 made the changes to 17 and 580 in the state highway system. No change was made to 238 since its number didn't change. The following year, the resignage of the routes affected by AB 2741 was completed. The freeway portion of California State Route 238 is resigned as Interstate 238 at this time. The 580 extension was likely signed as Temporary Interstate 580 on the non-freeway segment.
To recap, by the mid-1980s, the following roadways were added to the Interstate highway system as chargeable and non-chargeable Interstate mileage (see Daniel Faigin's page for
- California 17 between San Jose and Oakland
- California 17 between Richmond and San Rafael
- California 24 between California 17 and Interstate 580
- California 238 between California 17 and Interstate 580
The Interstate 980 designation was given to the California State Route 24 segment, while the California State Route 238 connector was given the number Interstate 238 (to the chagrin of many -- for a balanced review of the Interstate 238 situation, go to Casey Cooper's Indigestion 238 page. California State Route 17 over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was initially designated Interstate 180 in 1978, then recommissioned as an extension of Interstate 580 in 1983. However, there were no numbers left to give to the California State Route 17 route between San Jose and Oakland. Caltrans decided to give that stretch of road the Interstate 880 designation (which is a number that would live in infamy due to the collapse of the double-deck Nimitz Freeway portion around Oakland).
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the RT Metro light rail began service two years later, in 1987. The light rail service uses the completed portion of the attempted 80 realignment along with much of the old right-of-way.
In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake collapsed a portion of the Interstate 880 freeway in Oakland called the Cypress structure. 42 people are killed in the collapse. A large segment of Interstate 880 reopened in Oakland on a completely new alignment in mid-1997.
In 1990, the freeway section of Interstate 580 is completed through Richmond and classified as FAI 580. The older freeway section remains FAP 580.
In 1996, the Sacramento City Council votes to redesignate all of Business Loop 80 as the Capital City Freeway. The route numbers and FHWA classifications remain unchanged, as does the Business Loop designation. New signage with the new name is put in.
In 1998, Caltrans develops plans to construct HOV lanes on the 29/30th portion of Bus-80. They will begin near E Street and continue southward onto California State Route 99 to meet with the existing California State Route 99 HOV lanes there. Caltrans will add the HOV lanes to those viaducts by simply repaving and restriping the lanes. It is possible that they will eliminate a through lane in the process -- I'm not sure. The lanes will be completed in 1999. Once they are completed it will form 15 miles of continuous HOV lanes on Business 80 and California 99. New signage on Business 80 and 99 is also included in the HOV project.
By 1999, the reconstruction of the State Route 51 section of Business Loop Interstate 80 was nearly complete. The new median overhead signs along SR-51 have the new, California-style Business Loop shield design, which features a more angular version of the traditional Interstate highway shield. In addition, the contractors who reconstructed this section of Business Loop 80 had posted white "Your Tax Dollars At Work" signs with State Route 51 shields. Nevertheless, Business Loop 80 (the Capital City Freeway) is still the official designation of this road.
In addition, in the spring of 1999, the city of Sacramento considered taking over the California 160 freeway (which runs from downtown Sacramento to Business Loop 80 near the Arden Wye) and downgrading it to a city street with at-grade intersections. This would, according to the city, allow more development along the highway. Also under consideration by the city is replacement of State Route 275, a freeway connecting downtown to Interstate 80 with a non-limited access road to encourage more development in West Sacramento. Whether either of these projects occur is still unresolved, although this seems more likely to occur given recent actions by the Sacramento City Council in 2000.
Also in 2000, the dual signage for California 99 was removed from its concurrent sections with Business Loop I-80 and Interstate 5. Overhead signs only read "To California 99." This is done in conjunction with a series of improvement projects on Interstate 5. California 99 shields were removed because there is a significant break in California 99 between its junction with Routes 50 and 51 at the Oak Park Interchange and where it junctions with Interstate 5 north of Sacramento.
To summarize the history of Business Loop I-80, a realignment of Interstate 80 was killed in Sacramento forcing the use of Interstate 880 as Interstate 80 to ensure route continuity. The change took place for the FHWA in 1980. The state changed its system in 1981, and resignage took place the following year. In 1983, Caltrans asked that 880 be used for California State Route 17 and received approval the same year. The next year the state system was changed; resignage took place in 1985. In short, the 880 number was out of use for about a year and disappeared because of a need for route continuity on 80, not because of a shortage of Interstate x80 numbers in the Bay Area. On a related note it would appear that the redesignation of 17 in Richmond as 580 hastened completion of the freeway there. That freeway had been in the works since the 1950s.
Page Updated November 6, 2005.