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Stories from the valley

WEST in West Sacramento has a Rice Connection

Contributed by Roberta Firoved

Artist Janet Zweig has contributed to the latest artwork to adorn the West Sacramento Bridge District. The kinetic artwork, WEST, is close to the Barn and Raley Field, across from the mirrored artwork sculpture, Subtile on the River Walk Park. WEST consists of hollow letters four feet tall, which rotate and light up at night. The word WEST is oriented toward West Sacramento even though it sometimes turns 90 degrees in the direction of downtown Sacramento. The turning word mimics the directions of the compass and with the concept of the WEST as a place of promise. In addition, 250 steel bands cover the many old pilings surrounding the pier to show the always changing height of the river.

The rice connection comes from the location of the artwork on Mill and Riverfront Streets. Mill Street Pier extends over the Sacramento River 120 feet. The Pier was built in 1957 by the National Rice Mills for transport of agricultural products via freight ships on the Sacramento River. Back when rice was hauled in bags by rail cars and loaded onto the ships awaiting transport. The Pier fell into disrepair after ceasing Rice Mills operations and opening the Port of West Sacramento in 1963. Port access from San Francisco is through the Deep Water Ship Channel consisting of 79 nautical miles and maintained at a depth of 30 feet.

Future development of the River Walk Park began with revisions to the land use in 1993. From 2004 to 2011, partnerships between the City of West Sacramento and local property owners relocated the rail track and enabled the city to acquire land for the River Walk Park. Future endeavors consist of residential units and five million square feet of retail, office buildings and hotels.