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What are the blue rocks along I-5 in Sacramento?

Caltrans says the rocks are part of an I-5 beautification project.

SACRAMENTO, California — If you've driven along I-5 in the 'boat section' through downtown Sacramento, you've likely seen something new: colorful, fist-sized pieces of recycled glass in the separators.

Some have speculated these rocks are related to the Kings since they can appear purple, but Caltrans says they’re pieces of blue recycled glass that look purple when the sun hits them.

It’s all part of a Clean California project to beautify the interstate. The project as a whole includes improvements on I-5 as well as Business 80 (Capital City Freeway) near the Marconi Curve. Caltrans says the whole project should be wrapped up in 2025.

Belinda Lindstrom noticed the rocks along I-5 recently and thinks they make the area look nice. 

"I thought they were pretty. I thought wow, you know, it's for the Kings. I associated the rocks with the Kings," said Lindstrom.

She also noticed the colorful cityscape along the freeway with the rocks. Caltrans' spokesperson for the Clean California Initiative, Kevin Murphy, says it all ties into a river-like theme.

"Interstate 5 really does serve as a gateway to the downtown core area of Sacramento," said Murphy.

He says the glass is a low-cost and low-maintenance way to beautify it that also doesn't involve water.

"There were clear-colored glass pieces that were part of the separators early on, but we have replaced those with the blue-colored rocks to go along with sort of the river theme of the I-5 boat area," said Murphy. 

Murphy says there are six Clean California projects in District 3; two in Sacramento. There are a few Clean California projects in the works right now, some on local freeways like this one on I-5 and Business 80. 

There’s also a nine-mile, two-phase project happening along Highway 99 with improvements along sound walls, two murals at under-crossings and painted pedestrian crossings through South Sacramento.

People are noticing the positive changes.

"I also noticed on the freeway on 99 that the new rails or gates – whatever you want to call them – are painted yellow and blue. I think that looks kind of pretty," said Lindstrom.

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