An artist's representation of the original Yolo Causeway. Circa 1920.
|Carries||6 lanes of , |
pedestrians and bicycles
|Locale||Yolo County, California|
|Official name||Blecher-Freeman Memorial Causeway|
|NBI||22 0044 & 22 0045|
|Design||prestressed concrete tee beam|
|Total length||3.2 miles (5.1 km), divided into 877.8-metre (2,880 ft) western segment and 2,682.2-metre (8,800 ft) eastern segment|
|Width||35.7 metres (117 ft)|
|No. of spans||72 (western segment)|
127 (eastern segment)
|Opened||1916 (original), 1962 (current)|
|Daily traffic||150,000 (2010)|
The Yolo Causeway is a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) long elevated highway viaduct on Interstate 80 that crosses the Yolo Bypass floodplain, connecting the cities of West Sacramento, California and Davis, California. It is officially named the Blecher-Freeman Memorial Causeway after two California Highway Patrol officers who were killed in the line of duty on the causeway.
Before a causeway was built, motor travelers between Davis and Sacramento were forced to detour south through Tracy and Stockton when seasonal flooding left the Yolo Bypass basin under water. Once the ground was sufficiently dry to support vehicle traffic, the first vehicle to make it across the Yolo Bypass established the seasonal "Tule Jake" Road, which was typically passable only during the summer months.
The original Yolo Causeway opened on 18 March 1916 as a two-lane structure 21 feet (6.4 m) wide and 16,538 feet (5,041 m) long, connecting what is now the city of West Sacramento with Davis, California. Initially, the causeway was composed of a 2,470-foot (750 m) timber trestle section on the west and the remainder concrete trestle section, with a 113-foot (34 m) plate girder bascule span, which was opened to permit passage of levee maintenance barges. The causeway width was doubled in 1933 when a new all-timber viaduct was added just south of the 1916 reinforced concrete structure, and lights were added in 1950.
Initially, the Lincoln Highway association declined to shift the route to take advantage of the Yolo Causeway, but in 1928, following the completion of the Carquinez Bridge, it was made a part of the re-routed Lincoln Highway, the first road across America. Later, the causeway became a part of US Highways 40 and 99W.
The current causeway was built in 1962. From west to east, the causeway is composed of twinned 2,880-foot (880 m) long concrete trestles, a 4,700-foot (1,400 m) long earth fill segment, and twinned 8,800-foot (2,700 m) long concrete trestles. The easternmost of the two bridges is the longer of the two and traffic reporters will sometimes refer to the two structures as the "long bridge" and the "short bridge". Each trestle carries a 46-foot (14 m) wide, three-lane roadway.
The causeway has led to the naming of the Causeway Classic, the annual college football game between the Aggies of the University of California, Davis and the Hornets of California State University, Sacramento.
The 25,500 acre (103 km²) Yolo Bypass protects Sacramento and other California Central Valley communities from flooding. During wet seasons, it can be full of water. It contains the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, the largest ecological restoration project west of the Everglades. Other nature preserves in it include the Fremont Weir Wildlife Area and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.
Approximately 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the Yolo Causeway every June. They roost in the expansion joints between the causeway segments, and feed on the insects that live in the wetlands formed by the Yolo Bypass.