Business Loop I-80 in Sacramento is a limited access highway encircling Downtown and Midtown. U.S. 50 overlaps with the business loop for the westernmost 5.5 miles. California 99 also joins the loop between Exits 4 (I-5) and Exit 6 (Sacramento Freeway).
The route was established in 1980 over the former routing of Interstate 80 between West Sacramento and Sacramento near the community of Carmichael. This action occurred as the planned new alignment for I-80 replacing the substandard section along the eastern leg, including the Marconi Curve, was deleted by a Sacramento City Council vote taken in 1979.1 Instead of constructing a new section of freeway for I-80, the alignment was shifted northward over the Sacramento bypass, Interstate 880.
Subsequent actions by the FHWA reclassified the old I-80 alignment from FAU (Federal-aid Urban) 6380 to FAP 51. State Senate Bill 191 followed these actions by deleting I-880 and formally rerouting I-80 over it.1 As defined in the California State Highway Code, legislative Route 51 was to be signed and designated as “Interstate Business Loop 80.” Route 51 runs from the U.S. 50/SR 99/Bus. 80 Northeast to the Interstate 80/SR 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/SR 99/Bus. 80 junction is signed and designated Bus. 80 and U.S. 50.
An application to AASHTO finalized the route changes. As approved on November 14, 1980, I-80 was rerouted over eliminated I-880, old I-80 was renumbered as Interstate 305 between the west end at former I-880 and the junction with U.S. 50 and SR 99 in Sacramento, while U.S. 50 was extended west. This kept the western portion of the route in the Interstate system as unsigned I-305. The substandard eastern section became unsigned California 51.
Lastly, the California State Highway System Signing Log (October, 1991) defines the Sacramento business loop as 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.”
Business Loop I-80 was renamed the Capital City Freeway in 1996. The freeway serves commuters from the eastern suburbs and U.S. 50 through traffic as it links Interstate 80 to the west with Folsom, Placerville and Lake Tahoe to the east. The U.S. 50 component factored into a sign replacement project (Contract No. 03-4F7104) along Business Loop I-80 in 2015. Details from the project manager via Joe Rouse indicated that the de-emphasis of Business 80 on the U.S. 50 section is to simply things by providing motorists with a single route versus an overlap. This philosophy was reinforced with the 2014 completed “Fix50” project, where an increasing number of motorists referred to the jointly signed route as simply U.S. 50. Additionally, the legislative descriptions of Business Loop I-80 specify that the Route 51 section be signed as Business 80, while the Route 50 section includes no such requirement. Joe concluded that the loop essentially is now a spur, though formal sign changes reflecting that are not planned.2