Interstate 480 Nebraska / Iowa

Interstate 480 and the former Interstate 580 in central Omaha.

Routing

Interstate 480 forms the inner belt freeway around central Omaha between I-80 at the Hanscom Park neighborhood and I-29 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. The route serves commuters to Downtown and various points of interest including Creighton University, TD Ameritrade Park Omaha (home of the College World Series) and the Midtown Crossing mixed use development along U.S. 6 (Dodge Street).

Interstate 480 doubles as U.S. 75 from I-80 to Exit 2C and as U.S. 6 across the Missouri River to Broadway. The interstate switches cardinal directions at the interchange with the North Freeway (U.S. 75 / former Interstate 580), where it turns east from the Gifford Park neighborhood to Downtown Northeast.

History

Interstate 480 between the Nebraska-Iowa State Line and Interstate 29 in Council Bluffs opened on November 12, 1966.1 This included the 1,687 foot long Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge.2 The eight-lane steel plate girder bridge connected motorists with the U.S. 6 couplet of Dodge Street west and Douglas Street east.

Bids for construction on the first leg of Interstate 480 in Omaha were received by Nebraska Department of Roads in 1960.3 The loop around Downtown Omaha in Nebraska was finished in 1970.4

The previous three wye interchanges joining Interstate 80 with both I-480 north and U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) south were redesigned to eliminate left-hand ramps and weaving traffic as part of a ten-year $320-million overhaul of Interstate 80 across Omaha. Work started in in April 1989 and was scheduled to wrap up in fall of 1993. Record rains during spring and summer 1993 delayed the project through to a June 1994 completion. A portion of Interstate 480 was also expanded from four to eight lanes.5,6

Construction in 2001-02 demolished the 13th Street on-ramp to I-480 west and replaced it with a new ramp from Cass Street that opened on December 27, 2002. Adjacent work realigned the 14th Street on-ramp to eastbound. The changes were made as part of the $280 million work for the adjacent convention center.7,8

Further west, where Interstate 480 meets the North Freeway (U.S. 75), a planned three and a half year project kicked off on July 18, 2005 to rebuild the exchange by Gifford Park. The $45 million project, delayed from a planned fall 2004 start due to a lack of funding, focused on redesigning the interchange. Work realigned I-480 so that it travels through the junction seamlessly on new carriageways, removed unused ramps built for the scuttled West Freeway, and replaced the remaining bridges and pavement.9,10

The West Freeway was formally canceled due to neighborhood opposition in 1973.12 It was proposed as a limited access route parallel to U.S. 6 (Dodge Street) through the Cathedral, Dundee and Memorial Park neighborhoods through to Interstate 680. Ramps for the freeway opened in 1971 as local connectors from I-480 west to 30th and Chicago Streets and from Davenport at 31st Streets to I-480. These ramps eventually closed in 1984.9

Throughout the project to rebuild the North Freeway-Interstate 480 interchange, detours were in effect as various ramps were closed or replaced. Work removed seven bridges and built 13. The 30th Street on-ramp to the North Freeway (U.S. 75) also closed permanently due to safety concerns with the left-hand merge.11

Construction progressed through 2007, when funding issues arose due to revenue shortages for the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Phase two work completed by December 2008 included improvements to I-480 east and U.S. 75 north, with the on-ramps from Dodge and Cuming Streets built last. Work on I-480 west and U.S. 75 south was initially pushed back to 2011 as costs for the project increased to $52 million.12

Thanks to stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), construction on the third and final phase of the US 75 / I-480 Interchange Project commenced in September 2009. The abandoned westbound on-ramp from I-480 to Davenport Street over 30th Street was demolished in November 2009.13, with the remaining work finished in December 2010. As the project neared completion, 2011 construction included incidental work along the ramps with 30th Street and the westbound mainline of I-480 through the interchange.14

Interstate 480 Extension

Disputes in 1999 over the replacement of the Missouri River bridge (U.S. 34) at Plattsmouth led to an extensive proposal made by U.S. Representative Doug Bereuter R-Nebraska for an extension of Interstate 480 south. The new route would take I-480 along the Kennedy Freeway south past Bellevue to a new alignment east across the Missouri River to Interstate 29 near Glenwood, Iowa. The loop would be built in addition to a replacement span for the U.S. 34 toll bridge at Plattsmouth.15

The Iowa Department of Transportation did not support this plan and instead favored rerouting U.S. 34 to the north and redesignating the former route into Plattsmouth as a local route. The 1995 costs for the two new bridges were $40 millions for the new four-lane Sarpy bridge and $20 million to replace the Plattsmouth toll bridge. City of Bellevue officials believed that the Bereuter plan involving I-480 would increase costs of the project by $10 million.16

State and federal lawmakers agreed on a single plan to build the two new bridges in Sarpy and Cass Counties at a meeting at Plattsmouth City Hall held on May 13, 2000. The new four lane bridge in southern Sarpy County would be come part of a new alignment for U.S. 34, and the replacement for the toll bridge at Plattsmouth would be part of new U.S. 34 Business. Bereuter would support the realignment plan if the Cass County bridge was designated as a U.S. 34 business route. The reroute of U.S. 34 was sought by Iowa officials due to funding requirements.17

Construction on the $61 million Missouri River bridge for U.S. 34 broke ground in September 2010. Coupled with the approaches, the new alignment cost $115 million, with the federal government paying for 80 percent of the cost. The 3,276-foot long bridge was dedicated on October 22, 2014. It connects with a nearly 7-mile stretch of divided highway slated for future economic development.18

The Plattsmouth toll bridge not replaced and instead was purchased by the city of Plattsmouth from the Plattsmouth Bridge Company in 2007 for $1. The 1929 opened, 402-foot long cantilevered truss bridge was refurbished in 2008.18 It is not designated as U.S. 34 Business and instead carries County Road L35 in Iowa and no designation in Nebraska.

Planned Improvements

Construction included in the multi-year Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program addresses the substandard exchange at the east end of Interstate 480 with I-29 and U.S. 6 (Broadway). Potential upgrades to the West Broadway Interchange include new access from Interstate 29 to Broadway, relocating the freeway mainline so that it no longer separates through the interchange, the construction of new flyovers from the right-hand side of I-29 instead of the left, and new ramps to 2nd Avenue. Under environmental review in 2016, work on the four year project may begin in 2020.19

Western Terminus - Interstate 80 - Omaha, Nebraska
Perspective from Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 south
Heading south by the Columbus Park neighborhood, Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 approach Exit 1A for Martha Street (former Nebraska 38) and reach Interstate 80 in one mile. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Entering the diamond interchange with Martha Street on I-480 & U.S. 75 south at the Hanscom Park neighborhood. U.S. 75 transitions into the Kennedy Freeway in 0.75 miles.
Nebraska 38 was decommissioned on January 1, 2003 when the route was turned over to the city of Omaha. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Two lanes depart next for Interstate 80 west to Lincoln. Using the mileage from I-80, this is the only connection assigned an exit number from I-480 south. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Exit 452C parts ways with U.S. 75 south as Interstate 480 ends. U.S. 75 travels high above I-80 through to the Kennedy Freeway, which winds southeast to Spring Lake and Brown Park through south Omaha. Photo taken 06/18/15.
A high flyover departs for Interstate 80 east through the Deer Park neighborhood to Council Bluffs, Iowa. U.S. 75 continues south ten miles to combine with U.S. 34 between Offutt Air Force Base and Plattsmouth. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 south
A non reflectorized interchange sequence sign remained in use along Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 south on the two mile approach to Interstate 80. The replacement made by 2008 did not retain the associated exit numbers. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Perspective from Interstate 80 east
Approaching 42nd Street along side the Robin Hill neighborhood of Omaha, Interstate 80 is 1.5 miles out from the exchange with both Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 north and the Kennedy Freeway (U.S. 75) south. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Exit 451 departs I-80 east for 42nd Street north to Hanscom Park and south to the Burlington Road neighborhood as a diagrammatic sign outlines the forthcoming partition of Exit 452 for I-480 north. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Interstate 480 and U.S. 75 combine northward from I-80 to the North Freeway, which joins Downtown with Eppley Airfield (OMA) and Florence. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Interstate 80 expands to 12 overall lanes with auxiliary lanes between 42nd Street and the initial three wye interchange (Exit 452) with Interstate 480 & U.S. 75 north. Photo taken 06/18/15.
All traffic bound for I-480 & U.S. 75 north to Downtown and U.S. 75 south to Bellevue departs in unison at Exit 452. A second three-wye interchange joins I-80 with the Kennedy Freeway otherwise to the immediate east. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 80 east
Guide signs for Exit 452 were both replaced by 2009 when a fourth exit lane was added for U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) south. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The ramp from Interstate 80 east to U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) south was expanded to two lanes in 2008. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
Traveling west through the Deer Park neighborhood, Interstate 80 meets 13th Street prior to the back to back three wye interchanges (Exit 452) with U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) south and I-480 & U.S. 75 north. Prior to 1989, a second local exit departed just ahead for 24th Street. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Interstate 80 previously reduced to a single lane mainline through the exchange with U.S. 75 and Interstate 480 north. Construction completed in 1994 added high speed flyovers and removed left-hand ramps while expanding the mainline to four overall lanes. Photo taken 06/18/15.
A half diamond interchange adds traffic to Interstate 80 west from 24th Street as Exit 452 lowers. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Traffic splits for the Kennedy Freeway south to Bellevue and Offutt AFB and I-480 & U.S. 75 north to Downtown and Eppley Field (OMA). Originally named the South Freeway, the limited access highway carrying U.S. 75 through the Spring Lake and Highland South neighborhoods replaced 13th Street and Railroad Avenue as the alignment for U.S. 73 & 75. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Perspective from U.S. 75 north
A diamond interchange joins U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) with F Street and the Spring Lake neighborhood just south of the three-wye interchange with Interstate 80. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Northbound U.S. 75 transitions from the Kennedy Freeway onto Interstate 480 as the eastbound off-ramp for I-80 departs. Prior to the 1989-94 rebuild of this interchange, a left-hand ramp connected U.S. 75 north with I-80 west while an adjacent folded diamond interchange with 24th Street resulted in a weaving traffic pattern. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Two lanes separate for both I-480 & U.S. 75 north to Downtown and Eppley Field (OMA) and I-80 west to Lincoln. All roadways and ramps are elevated due to the Union Pacific Railroad passing below. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 29 - Council Bluffs, Iowa
Perspective from Interstate 480 & U.S. 6 east
Exit 3A drops from the Interstate 480 viaduct onto 14th Street as the Gerald Ford Freeway swings southeast to combine with U.S. 6 across the Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. CenturyLink Center Omaha, an indoor sports and concert venue, rises just east of the elevated roadway as I-480 continues one mile to Interstate 29. Photo taken 06/18/15.
U.S. 6 east merges onto Interstate 480 east from Douglas Street to cross the Missouri River into Council Bluffs, Iowa. U.S. 6 extends from the freeway end onto Broadway beyond Exit 0 and the ramps to I-29. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Interstate 480 ends at the forthcoming directional T interchange with Interstate 29. Two lanes depart for Sioux City and St. Joseph while the mainline defaults onto Broadway. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Motorists split between U.S. 6 (Broadway) east toward Downtown Council Bluffs and Interstate 29. I-29 south combines with I-80 east in two miles. The route travels another 183 miles to end in Kansas City. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Interstate 29 leads north 92 miles to Sioux City. I-680 east ties into the route at Crescent in eight miles. Photo taken 06/18/15.
A half diamond interchange connects the ending U.S. 6 freeway with 2nd Avenue at 36th Street and from Avenue A west. U.S. 6 lines Broadway, a commercial boulevard, through to Downtown where it transitions onto Kanesville Boulevard back to I-80. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
Historical Perspective from Interstate 480 & U.S. 6 east
Although still in Nebraska, this set of signs was replaced by IowaDOT to use Clearview font. The panel for Dodge Park was also replaced to display Exit 0 to the Riverfront. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Sign changes made by 2014 on the Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge removed the exit numbers for Interstate 29. The Photo taken 09/05/05.
These signs were also replaced by 2014 to use Clearview font. The reference to I-80 was not retained. Photo taken 09/05/05.
The panels posted as the ramp partition for Interstate 29 north to Missouri City and south to Glenwood were carbon copied by 2014. This includes the tab referencing I-80. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Perspective from Interstate 29 south
Interstate 29 encircles Council Bluffs from Exit 56 to the east split with Interstate 80. The freeway runs west along the Missouri River levee system from North 25th Street to G Avenue on the two mile approach to Interstate 480 & U.S. 6 west. Photo taken 06/18/15.
The Downtown Omaha skyline comes into view as Exit 54A departs I-29 south for G Avenue. The directional T interchange (Exit 53B) with I-480 & U.S. 6 west lies to the immediate south. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Southbound at the off-ramp (Exit 53B) for Interstate 480 & U.S. 6 west across the Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge into Downtown Omaha. I-480 meets the North Freeway (U.S. 75) in 2.5 miles, which leads toward Eppley Airfield (OMA). Photo taken 06/18/15.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 29 south
Previous signs for Exit 53B on Interstate 29 south omitted the overlap of U.S. 6 west along Interstate 480 between Broadway in Council Bluffs and Dodge Street in Omaha. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Replaced signs at the parclo interchange (Exit 54) with G Avenue. Photo taken 09/05/05.
U.S. 6 finally appeared at the ramp departure of Exit 53B for I-480 west. There is no access to U.S. 6 (Broadway) east. Photo taken 09/05/05.
Perspective from Interstate 29 north
The first sign for Interstate 480 west along I-29 north appears just north of the west split with I-80 adjacent to the riverboat casino complex off River Road. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Leading north from 9th Avenue, Interstate 29 approaches the left-hand exit for Interstate 480 & U.S. 6 west to Nebraska. Photo taken 06/18/15.
U.S. 6 combines with Interstate 480 west from Broadway to the couplet of Dodge and Douglas Streets through Downtown Omaha. I-480 west combines with U.S. 75 south at the North Freeway in 2.5 miles. Photo taken 06/18/15.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 29 north
These signs were replaced with Clearview font and no longer include the state name. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (03/16/05).

Sources:

  1. "Iowa Completion Status of Interstate System as of January 1, 1982." Iowa Department of Transportation.
  2. Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge, Johnweeks.com.
  3. 50 Years of Interstate - Nebraska and the Nation.
  4. "Coming in 2002: New 13th Street ramp to I-480." Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 9, 2001.
  5. "Major Highway Interchange Nears Completion Interstate Engineer Hopes for No Repeat Of Wet '93 Summer." Omaha World-Herald (NE), January 2, 1994.
  6. "Kennedy - Interstate 80 - 480 Interchange Work." Omaha World-Herald (NE), June 29, 1994.
  7. "13th Street ramp to I-480 opening The street, north of Capitol Avenue to the ramp, should open by midday Friday." Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 25, 2002.
  8. "OMAHA TIME CAPSULE." Omaha World-Herald (NE), November 23, 2011.
  9. "Freeway rebuilding will mean slow going." Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 13, 2003.
  10. "Work slated for downtown freeway - Rebuilding I-480/U.S. 75 (North Freeway) interchange." Omaha World-Herald (NE), February 14, 2005.
  11. "Freeway junction work to begin - Ramp closures - Rebuilding I-480/U.S. 75 (North Freeway) interchange." Omaha World-Herald (NE), July 16, 2005.
  12. "Interstate plans hit 2-year snag - Work on the I-480 interchange is delayed until 2011; a lack of federal funds also affects Lincoln and Grand Island projects." Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 5, 2008.
  13. "Celebrate demise of 'bridge to nowhere'." Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 5, 2008.
  14. US 75 / I-480 - Interchange Project http://www.nebraskatransportation.org/projects/480-75/index.htm, NDOR Project Web Site, Updated January 2011.
  15. "Bereuter Proposes 2 Missouri Bridges." Omaha World-Herald (NE), September 20, 1999.
  16. "Plans for Bridges Keep Falling Dow." Omaha World-Herald (NE), February 20, 2000.
  17. "Agreement Reached On Bridges Nebraska and Iowa can now go after funding for spans across the Missouri River in Cass and Sarpy Counties." Omaha World-Herald (NE), May 17, 2000.
  18. "New bridge gives Nebraska drivers another link to I-29." Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 21, 2014.
  19. "Changes to Council Bluffs Interstate interchange may be around the bend." Omaha World-Herald (NE), March 15, 2016.

Page Updated March 17, 2016.