A new tied arch bridge carries pedestrians across the newly reconstructed eastbound Interstate 235 as the freeway passes through Des Moines. Several of these bridges were constructed across Interstate 235 to provide freeway beautification and neighborhood connectivity. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Known as the Macvicar Freeway, east-west Interstate 235 loops into downtown Des Moines, connecting to Interstates 35 and 80 on either end. Its parent, Interstate 35, duplexes with Interstate 80 for the northern half of the Des Moines freeway system.
Recent new construction in the Des Moines area has expanded the freeway system to include a new outer loop further South and East of the city limits. It is designated as Iowa 5, and it carries U.S. 65 for a distance.
Construction on Interstate 235 in Des Moines was underway by the early 1960s. The highway was fully opened on October 30, 1968. In order from west to east, segments opened as follows:1
Interstate 35/Interstate 80 east to 63rd Street: October 30, 1968
63rd Street to 31st Street: December 6, 1967
31st Street to Cottage Grove: December 13, 1966
Cottage Grove to Keo Way: December 14, 1961
Keo Way to Penn Avenue: November 9, 1963
Penn Avenue to Easton Boulevard: December 13, 1966
Easton Boulevard to Interstate 35/Interstate 80: December 6, 1967
The first appearance of signage on westbound Interstate 235 for the junction with Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 is this overhead, just prior to Exit 2. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (01/06).
The right lane becomes exit only for Exit 2, 22nd Street to West Des Moines and Clive. Interstate 235 continues west toward its junction with Interstate 35 and Interstate 80. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (01/06).
The next exit along westbound Interstate 235 is Exit 1A, 50th Street to West Des Moines. Signage again appears for Interstate 35 and Interstate 80. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (01/06).
Traffic bound for Interstate 35 north to Minneapolis and Interstate 80 east to Chicago departs here, at Exit 123B. The next ramp is a loop ramp that connects to Interstate 35 south to Kansas City. Through traffic for Interstate 80 to Omaha and Cheyenne should use the left two lanes. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (01/06).
Westbound Interstate 235 concludes at the Interstate 35 southbound ramp. Traffic that does not utilize this ramp will default onto Interstate 80 westbound. The control city of Council Bluffs is 115 miles to the west while the much larger city of Omaha is just across the state line at 123 miles. Control point Kansas City is 176 miles to the south via Interstate 35. Otherwise Interstate 35 continues through the West Des Moines suburban community to Cumming. The newer signage is shown first, followed by the older signage. Photos taken 09/04/05 and by Dale Sanderson (2002).
Perspective from Interstate 80 east
Eastbound Interstate 80 approaches the junction with both Interstate 35 south and Interstate 235 east (Exit 123A-B). Use the left two lanes for Interstate 235 and the right two lanes for through traffic on Interstate 80 east/Interstate 35 north or to exit south on Interstate 35 toward Kansas City. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (08/19/04).
This is the second set of diagrammatic overhead signs for the Interstate 35/80/235 split via Interstate 80 East. Notice the control city of Chicago for Interstate 80 Eastbound. Signage at the Eastern terminus replaces this with Davenport of the Quad Cities (as seen in a below Eastern Terminus photo). Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (08/19/04).
The above Pictured overhead precedes this set of original button copy guide signs. Interstate 235 continues the eastern orientation of Interstate 80 through another four miles of the community of West Des Moines. The central business district is eight miles to the east. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1979).
The eastbound beginning of Interstate 235 commences at the Interstate 35 and 80 ramp departures of Exit 123A/B. The first mainline interchange of Interstate 235 is with 50th Street in West Des Moines. Interstate 80 meanwhile merges with Interstate 35 to the north and encounters University Avenue next at Exit 124. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (03/99).
The predecessors of the guide signs Pictured in the above photograph. These signs retain button copy Interstate shields, of which are an increasingly dying breed. One change between this set of signs and the current set is that the left-hand panel transition from a pull-through assembly to that of an exit-only assembly. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1979).
Perspective from Interstate 35 north
This mileage sign on northbound Interstate 35 after the Iowa 5 freeway interchange marks the first appearance of Interstate 235 and Interstate 80. The next junction is with Grand Avenue (Exits 69A-B). Photo taken 09/04/05.
A few miles further north, another sign on northbound Interstate 35 mentions the junction with Interstate 80 and Interstate 235. The interchange with Interstate 80 and Interstate 235 is 2.50 miles north of the Mills Civic Parkway interchange. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The left two lanes carry Interstate 35 north and Interstate 80 east, while the right lane connects to Exit 72A, Junction Interstate 235 east to Des Moines and Exit 72B, Junction Interstate 80 west to Omaha (loop ramp). Photo taken 09/04/05.
Even though Interstate 235 is primarily east-west, it is signed as a loop from Interstate 35. This is likely because almost all of the other loop designations from Interstate 80 are used in Iowa, except for Interstate 880. Photo taken 09/04/05.
To continue north on Interstate 35 or follow Interstate 80 east, stay in the left two lanes. Otherwise, the first exit is the transition ramp to eastbound Interstate 235 to downtown Des Moines, and the second ramp is to westbound Interstate 80 en route to Council Bluffs, Omaha, Lincoln, Cheyenne, and Denver (via the western Interstate 76). Photo taken 09/04/05.
Interstate 35 north to Minneapolis and Interstate 80 east to Davenport are cosigned as they prepare to bypass downtown Des Moines after the ramp to Interstate 235 east. Photo taken 09/04/05.
After traffic from Interstate 80 east merges, northbound Interstate 35 meets the transition ramp onto westbound Interstate 80 to Omaha. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The transition ramp from northbound Interstate 35 to westbound Interstate 80 is signed with a reassurance shield. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 35 south/Interstate 80 west
The first mention of the interchange with Interstate 235 on westbound Interstate 80 and southbound Interstate 35 is shown prior to the U.S. 6 interchange (Exit 125). The two-mile guide sign only mentions the junction with Interstate 80 and does not have an exit number. Interstate 235 east to Des Moines is not mentioned. This is likely because most traffic on Interstate 35-80 are planning to follow one of the two primary routes onward: Interstate 35 south to Kansas City or Interstate 80 west to Council Bluffs and Omaha. Photos taken 09/04/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Interstate 35 southbound/Interstate 80 westbound approach the western interchange with Interstate 235. The first exit is for Interstate 80 west, and the second exit is to Interstate 235 east. Photos taken 09/04/05) and by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Continuing south on Interstate 35 and west on Interstate 80, the right two lanes continue onto Interstate 80 west to Council Bluffs and Omaha, while the left lane continues south on Interstate 35 to Kansas City. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Older overheads signage on Interstate 35 southbound/Interstate 80 westbound at Interstate 235. Note that Interstate 235 is displayed in a 2di shield and that both shields contain the state name. Traffic headed to Interstate 80 west from Interstate 35 follows the larger, neutered shield and two lanes west toward Council Bluffs. Photos taken 09/04/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Now separated from Interstate 80, southbound Interstate 35 reaches the exit ramp for Exit 72A, Junction Interstate 235 east to Des Moines. These are older, button copy signs. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 235 east
After the Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 interchange, this is the first Interstate 235 reassurance shield along eastbound. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The first exit on eastbound Interstate 235 is Exit 1B, Valley West Drive to the city of West Des Moines. The next three exits are posted in the center median. This signage is part of the improved Interstate 235 corridor, which was being reconstructed in stages between the western and eastern end through the first decade of the 2000s. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Eastbound Interstate 235 reaches Exit 1B, Valley West Drive to the city of West Des Moines. A storm that had dumped copious rain on the region was beginning to break up and move east at the time this picture was taken (hence the dark clouds in the background). Photo taken 09/04/05.
The first signage for the pending junction with Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 along eastbound Interstate 235 appears at the U.S. 6. Since this freeway is being reconstructed and widened, it is likely that this signage has been replaced. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Leaving the downtown area of the Iowa capital city, Interstate 235 approaches the final interchange at the Interstate 35/80 split. The final interchange of Interstate 235 receives no exit numbers. In fact, none off the 19 mainline interchanges are assigned an exit number. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The eastbound conclusion of Interstate 235 defaults onto Interstate 35 north. Pictured here is the Interstate 235 ends sign bridge at the Interstate 80 eastbound ramp for the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids via the connection with Interstate 380. Photo taken 09/04/05.
After the previous sign bridge, Iowa shows a cosigned NORTH Interstate 35 and WEST Interstate 80. This is because the mainline of Interstate 235 will connect to Interstate 80 west first, then default onto northbound Interstate 35. However, at no time is the mainline of north Interstate 35 merged with west Interstate 80; it is north/east or south/west. Also, why isn't SOUTH Interstate 35 signed? This can make this shield assembly a bit confusing. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Northbound Interstate 235 reaches the connecting ramp to westbound Interstate 80 and southbound Interstate 35. The mainline continues north to merge with northbound Interstate 35. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
The two-mile guide sign for Exits 138B-A of westbound Interstate 80 is located at the Exit 141 interchange with U.S. 65. U.S. 65 and Iowa 5 represent a belt freeway that bypasses the Des Moines metropolitan area to the southeast and serves rapidly growing suburbs. The section that connects with Interstate 80 west of Des Moines is signed as U.S. 65. Near Carlisle, the beltway picks up Iowa 5, and four miles west of Carlisle, U.S. 65 south departs from the beltway, leaving only Iowa 5 to continue west to end at Interstate 35 (Exit 68) near West Des Moines. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
The ramp to Interstate 235 west to downtown Des Moines is a left exit. The ramp to Interstate 35 north to Ames, Clear Lake, Albert, Lea, Owatonna, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is a right exit. Continue straight ahead in either of the right two lanes for the continuation of Interstate 80 west and Interstate 35 south to bypass Des Moines to the northwest. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Entering the Interstate 235 terminal interchange on Interstate 80 westbound. Pictured here is the Exit 137B northbound ramp of Interstate 35. The north-south route encounters the northern suburb of Ankeny in four miles and the city of Ames in 25 miles. Photos taken 09/04/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
This is a historical look at the same signage from 1976: These are the original button copy signs found along westbound Interstate 80 at the junction with Interstate 35 north and Interstate 235 west. The State Fairgrounds were displayed prominently on the future Exit 137A ramp of the downtown loop. The fairgrounds can be found along Iowa 163/University Avenue east of the central business district. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1976).
A set of reassurance shields for Interstate 35 south, Interstate 80 west, and Interstate 235 is posted after the exit for Interstate 35 north. Use the left lane to connect to Interstate 235 west to downtown Des Moines. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
The southbound beginning of Interstate 235 at Exit 137A. Interstate 35 and 80 begin their 15-mile overlap north of the Des Moines city limits. The overlapped freeway serves the suburbs of Johnston, Urbandale, Grimes, and Clive before splitting at the Interstate 235 west terminal. Photos taken 09/04/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Perspective from Interstate 35 north/Interstate 80 east
The first mention of the junction with westbound Interstate 235 appears on a mileage sign, followed by this overhead at the Iowa 415/Second Avenue interchange (Exit 135) on northbound Interstate 35 and eastbound Interstate 80. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (05/06/06).
The next exit along northbound Interstate 35 and eastbound Interstate 80 is Exit 136, Junction U.S. 69/East 14th Street. Interstate 235 is the next interchange as well as the point where Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 part ways. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (05/06/06).
Use the left lane for the continuation of Interstate 35 north to Minneapolis. The right two lanes continue east on Interstate 80. A right exit connects to Interstate 235 southwest to downtown Des Moines. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (05/06/06).
Nearing the Interstate 35 northbound split from Interstate 80 east at Exit 137A/Interstate 235 south. The first southbound interchange of the Des Moines downtown loop is with U.S. 6/Euclid Avenue. Interstate 80 to the east continues to the suburbs of Altoona and Bondurant before leaving the metropolitan area for good. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (05/06/06).
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches the left exit for Interstate 35 north to Minneapolis as it passes under the bridge Interstate 235. Photo taken 09/04/05.
After Interstate 35 north departs, eastbound Interstate 80 is signed alone. The freeway passes under a bridge carrying Interstate 235's northbound lanes, and the upcoming merge brings additional lanes from Interstate 235 eastbound. Photo taken 09/04/05.
This mileage sign for Marshalltown and Davenport is posted on westbound Interstate 80 after the Interstate 35 and Interstate 235 interchange east of Des Moines. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 35 south
The first mention of the junction with Interstate 80 and Interstate 235 appears at the Corporate Woods Drive interchange (Exit 89) on southbound Interstate 35. Photo taken by Jason Hancock (04/22/06).
Continuing south on Interstate 35, these signs are present after Exit 89, Corporate Woods Drive. Use the left lanes for Interstate 235 and the connection to Interstate 80 east to the Quad Cities; the right lane carries the mainline of Interstate 35 south along with Interstate 80 west around the Des Moines bypass. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The right lane becomes exit only for Interstate 35 south to Kansas City and Interstate 80 west to Omaha. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Southbound Interstate 35 and westbound Interstate 80 depart via Exit 87B (this is an example of a mainline Interstate highway exiting from itself). The next ramp connects to Interstate 80 east to Davenport and Chicago, and the left two lanes continue as Interstate 235 west to Des Moines and the state fairgrounds. Photo taken 09/04/05.
After Interstate 35 south and Interstate 80 west depart, the ramp to west Interstate 235 is signed with both Interstate 235 and Interstate 80 east, since there is a ramp to Interstate 80 east (Exit 87A) ahead. Note the wrong way multiplex of Interstate 235 west and Interstate 80 east (how can you go east and west at the same time?). A similar shield assembly is located on the northbound side for Interstate 35 and Interstate 80. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 235 south/west
Southbound (westbound) Interstate 235 reaches Exit 87A, Junction Interstate 80 east to the Quad Cities (which includes Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, and Rock Island). From here, Interstate 235 travels south and then west into downtown Des Moines. Photo taken 09/04/05.
This is the first reassurance shield on westbound Interstate 235 after the junction with Interstate 35 and Interstate 80. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Iowa Interstate - 50th Anniversary (web site no longer online)