Project to replace boardwalk with concrete sparks debate

The city plans to replace the wood boardwalk along the river front in Old Sacramento with a stamped concrete walkway that would give the appearance of wood, with a smoother finish and greater ease of maintenance. Karen Wright of Lodi, who works in Sacrame

Work will soon begin on ripping up a deteriorating wooden boardwalk along the Old Sacramento riverfront and replacing it with concrete, colored and stamped to look like wood.

The concrete path will complement the historic feel of the oldest part of the city, but be more durable and less of a maintenance headache, said Brooksie Hughes Old Sacramento District Director.

But the main thing is, it will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act.

Work on the $7.7 million project is set to begin in June and is slated for completion by Thanksgiving, weather depending, according to information provided by the City of Sacramento. Construction will be done in sections to allow all Old Sac businesses to remain open throughout.

The price tag includes landscaping, lighting, canvas awnings and other accessories, said project manager Kirk Thompson.

A second phase of the project, set for summer 2018, includes new gangways and stairs, improvements to the existing elevator, and maintenance issues with the old gravel barge that acts as a floating walkway at the base of the flood wall.

Hughes said she is confident that the project has been planned so as to minimize inconvenience to businesses and visitors.

“I think it will be a great place for people to gather when it’s done,” she said in a telephone interview. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Not everyone is a fan.

Replacing the battered old boardwalk with a smooth modern concrete walk will detract from the historic feel of the district, said Gard Treuling, a teacher from Cologne, Germany, who's in Sacramento this week with a group of touring students.

“It destroys the impression and feeling when you walk along,” said Treuling.

Los Angeles resident Mario Meza was more blunt.

“That is horrible,” he said. “Why would you take away the historical aspect… revamp everything to make it look brand new?”

Of about a dozen people interviewed Tuesday, all of them agreed that the wooden boardwalk, bumpy and dilapidated as it is, enhances the historic flavor of the district. Although it’s only been there since 1986, it does square up with the plank walkway that was there in 1868, the time period Old Sac.

Two people were able to summon a bit of lukewarm approval of the project.

Sacramento resident Robert Delacruz, who was enjoying the afternoon breeze on the riverfront with his two small daughters, said although the boardwalk made pushing a stroller a bit rocky, its nostalgic appeal made up for it.

However, although Delacruz thinks replacing the boardwalk with a similar wooden structure would be more aesthetically appealing, he understands that there are other factors, such as functionality and durability. Whereas the current board walk was in a state of deterioration some 31 years after it was put in, a concrete walkway will better withstand weather and traffic, said Delacruz, who is in the construction business.

And after it’s put in, he thinks it’s likely that people will soon come to appreciate the smoother, lower maintenance surface.

The decision on materials to use was a matter of weighing many factors, such as cost, function, appearance and longevity, said the project manager, Kirk Thompson.

Sacramento residents Vanessa Cueller and Laura Davis, strolling with week-old infant Bella, both said they preferred the wooden walkway, but Cueller said if the concrete walkway is safer, she could bring herself to support it.

Considering that a trip to Old Sacramento often includes a drink or two or more at one of the district’s bars, a smoother walkway could be a boon, they agreed.

However, Davis thinks the city has the wrong priorities.

“They should put the money into restoring the restrooms,” she said.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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