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Interstate 880 California

 

Routing

Interstate 880, known as California 17 until the mid-1980s, is the Nimitz Freeway between San Jose and Oakland. It generally follows the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Originating at the Interstate 280/California 17 interchange in San Jose, the freeway culminates its northerly journey at the Maze interchange (Junction Interstates 80 and 580) in Oakland. Although damaged in the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, its connection to Interstate 80 was restored by 1999.

Interstate 880 improves in San Jose. On November 13, 2003, a four lane segment of Interstate 880 between First Street and the Montague Expressway in the city saw widening from four to six lanes. Work began on the $74 million project in 2001. Interestingly engineers predict the average travel speed along the 2.5 mile stretch of highway to increase from 9 to 51 MPH. The commute time is predicted to decrease by an amazing 18 minutes along the same stretch of highway. The new lanes are placed within the old median zone that once contained oleander bushes and a steel cable.1

History

This section of former California 17 was introduced into the state highway system as a result of Federal Highway Administration action in 1983 and passage of State Assembly Bill 2741 in 1984. Interstate 880 was completely signed by 1985. A fraction of its former self, California 17 still remains designated south of Interstate 280 on its way to Santa Cruz. Interstate 880 is generally six to eight lanes wide, with some older sections undergoing reconstruction and expansion in the South Bay area in 2002.

The double-decker section of Interstate 880 along the Nimitz Freeway was the site of a tragic collapse of the Cypress Structure in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, resulting in the deaths of 42 motorists. A large segment of Interstate 880 reopened in Oakland on a completely new alignment in mid-1997, and by 1999, ten years after that calamity, Interstate 880 was reconstructed on a new alignment to connect to Interstates 80 and 580 in Oakland. Community input was taken to ensure that the new freeway would be less intrusive to Oakland neighborhoods. In terms of design, the former double-deck section of the Nimitz Freeway was reconstructed into a viaduct with no double deck sections. The Nimitz Freeway through this area is now known as the Cypress Freeway.

Planned Improvements

Between 1991 and 2010, Interstate 880 has seen and will see a wide variety of improvements that have or will alter the face of the Nimitz Freeway. Some of the improvements are the result of the disastrous Loma Prieta Earthquake, while others are designed to improve capacity and safety implicit in an Interstate highway. Federal, state, and local funds paid for the Interstate 880 upgrades. Both Santa Clara and Alameda Counties passed transportation sales tax measures, with some proceeds earmarked toward Interstate 880. Even the redesignation of California 17 into Interstate 880 helped bring additional federal funds to the upgrade projects.

The projects completed, underway, and/or planned (from south to north) are:

  • 2010 - Build new exit lanes from Interstate 280 to Interstate 880
  • 2006 - Rebuild Interstate 880/Coleman Avenue interchange
  • 1994 - Widen Interstate 880 over Caltrain tracks
  • 1998 - Rebuild U.S. 101/Interstate 880 interchange
  • 2003 - Widen Interstate 880 to six lanes between U.S. 101 and Montague Expressway (Santa Clara County Route G-4)
  • 1995 - Complete Tasman Drive overpass
  • 2005 - Open new ramps at California 237/Interstate 880 interchange
  • 1992 - Widen Interstate 880 from California 237 (Exit 8C) to Dixon Landing Road (Exit 10)
  • 2004 - Rebuild Dixon Landing Road overcrossing
  • 2008 - Rebuild California 262 (Mission Boulevard)/Interstate 880 Interchange
  • 2008 - Construct carpool lanes from California 237 to California 262
  • 1998 - Widen Interstate 880 to eight lanes from Union City to Fremont; rebuild 12 interchanges
  • 2009 - Rebuild California 92/Interstate 880 Interchange
  • 2002 - Repave Interstate 880 from Santa Clara-Alameda County Line north to High Street (to California 77/42nd Street) Interchange in Oakland
  • 1997 - Demolish remains of former Interstate 880 structure (destroyed by Loma Prieta Earthquake) and open new Cypress Freeway link between Interstate 980 and Interstate 80/Interstate 580 east of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Much of the interchange improvements involved removing former cloverleaf ramp merging patterns and replacing them with a more modern design. In total, nearly $2.5 billion has been spent or will be spent on these projects. Longer range projects include possible extension of high occupancy vehicle lanes from California 237 to U.S. 101 and new ramps at the California 77/42nd Avenue/High Street interchange in Oakland, Washington Boulevard interchange in San Leandro, and The Alameda interchange in Santa Clara.2

Former Alignment

Interstate 880 was originally used for the Sacramento Bypass between the late 1960s and 1980, and that alignment is profiled on the Former Interstate 880 in California page.

Future Aspirations

There are currently no plans to extend Interstate 880. However, a common misconception is that Interstate 880 ought to be extended south of Interstate 280 via California 17. Only the section of California 17 from Interstate 280 south to California 85 is Interstate-standard; the rest of the route to Santa Cruz is substandard, with cross traffic, limited sight distance, curves, and limited medians. There are no plans to upgrade California 17 to freeway standards, even though accidents occur regularly along it.

This map inset from the 1968 California Official Map shows that Interstate 280 and Interstate 680 at one time followed today's Interstate 880 alignment through San Jose before the two freeways were completed. Both routes were signed along former California 17 as Temporary Interstate 280 and Temporary Interstate 680.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 280 - San Jose, California
Perspective from Interstate 280 North
The first indication of the pending interchange with Interstate 880 and California 17 (Exits 5B-C) along northbound Interstate 280 is this sign. Originally, Interstate 880 was signed as California 17, so the green overlay was placed in the 1980s cover the original California 17 shield and show the current pattern. Interstate 880 travels north toward Newark, Fremont, and Oakland, while California 17 travels south toward Santa Cruz. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The collector-distributor lane from the Leigh Avenue/Bascom Avenue interchange (Exit 5A) shows not only Interstate 280 north but also Interstate 880 and California 17 on the pull through sign. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Use Interstate 880 north (the "Oakland" exit) to connect to Stevens Creek Boulevard. Stevens Creek Boulevard is the first exit along northbound Interstate 880 after the Interstate 280 interchange. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
We missed the 3/4 mile advance sign, but the following mileage sign shows the distance to the Interstate 880/California 17 interchange (Exits 5B-C). Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The right two lanes become exit only for southbound California 17 from northbound Interstate 280 (Exit 5B), while the number five lane serves the connection to northbound Interstate 880. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Northbound Interstate 280 reaches Exit 5C, Junction Interstate 880 north to Oakland. Interstate 280 continues northwest through Silicon Valley, then angles north toward Daly City and San Francisco. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The interchange between Interstate 280, Interstate 880, and California 17 is a stack interchange, with flyover ramps connecting the most heavily traveled connections. California 17 south of Interstate 280 was not converted into an Interstate highway due to the substandard nature of the freeway and expressway that connects San Jose with Santa Clara. Previous attempts to make California 17 into an Interstate standard freeway have not succeeded due to environmental and local opposition. Nevertheless, California 17 has a variety of challenges to keeping it safe, including problems that arise after heavy rains. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Perspective from Interstate 880 South
Unfortunately, this batch of photos was taken on with a poor sun angle on a partly cloudy day. This photo shows Interstate 880 heading southbound approaching Junction Interstate 280 and California 17, although California 17 is not shown on the overhead signs. Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
Southbound Interstate 880 at Stevens Creek Road exit, approaching Junction Interstate 280. There's still no mention of California 17. Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
Finally, within a quarter-mile of Interstate 280, there is an overhead sign for California 17 southbound to Santa Cruz. Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
This photo was taken from the exit only lane to Interstate 280. Interstate 880 ends with this exit, and California 17 carries the freeway toward Santa Cruz. There is no END Interstate 880 signage present. Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
Interstate 280 north/south overhead signage from transition from southbound Interstate 880. Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
Perspective from California 17 North
The first indication of the pending interchange with Interstate 280 and Interstate 880 is this mileage sign along northbound California 17. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Interstate 280 travels east (south) to downtown San Jose as well as connect to U.S. 101 and Interstate 680. It heads west (north) toward the western edge of Silicon Valley and then north to Daly City and San Francisco, following a path well worn by the San Andreas Fault. This sign is the first indication of Interstate 880 north to Oakland. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The right two lanes connect to Interstate 280, while the left three lanes transition California 17 directly onto Interstate 880. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Northbound California 17 ends and Interstate 880 northbound begins at the offramp to Interstate 280. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Perspective from Interstate 880 North
The first exit along northbound Interstate 880 is the connection to Interstate 280 north to San Francisco. This exit also serves Stevens Creek Boulevard and West San Carlos Street. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Northbound Interstate 880 reaches the exit for northbound Interstate 280. The freeway retains three through lanes along northbound Interstate 880. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Once on the ramp, the lanes split, with the right lane connecting to northbound Interstate 280 and the left lane connecting to Stevens Creek Boulevard and West San Carlos Street. The flyover ramp visible here connects northbound Interstate 280 with southbound California 17. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
This is the first reassurance shield along northbound Interstate 880 after the Interstate 280 interchange. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 80 - Oakland, California
Perspective from Interstate 80/Bay Bridge East
After emerging from the lower deck of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the first exit on eastbound Interstate 80 since leaving Yerba Buena Island is Exit 8A, Junction Interstate 880 south to Fremont and San Jose. The connection to Interstate 880 was reconstructed in the early 1990s as a result of damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. The new route follows a looping path around neighborhoods that it used to cut through. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The next two exits along eastbound Interstate 80 are Exit 8A, Junction Interstate 880 south and Exit 8B, Junction Interstate 580 east. Use Interstate 880 to San Jose and Interstate 580 to the Central Valley and Los Angeles. Due to truck restrictions on Interstate 580 after the Interstate 980/California 24 interchange, through trucks to Los Angeles should use Interstate 880 south to Interstate 238 south to Interstate 580 east. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
The right two lanes serve southbound Interstate 880 (Exit 8A), while the middle lanes connect to Interstate 580 east (Exit 8B). Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Eastbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 8A, Junction Interstate 880 south to San Jose. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Shortly thereafter, eastbound Interstate 80 approaches Exit 8B, Junction Interstate 580 east to Hayward, Tracy, Stockton, and Los Angeles. Interstate 580 also connects to California 24 en route to Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the connection from eastbound Interstate 80 to southbound Interstate 880 (former California 17) was closer to here, where eastbound Interstate 80 meets Exit 8B, Junction Interstate 580 east. Photo taken by AARoads (11/29/04).
Perspective from Interstate 80 West and Interstate 580 East
Unfortunately, this photo was taken on a rainy day, December 30, 2001. This signage, along Westbound Interstate 80 and Eastbound Interstate 580, is the first sign indicating the approaching Maze Interchange with Interstate 880 along the southbound Eastshore Freeway (confusingly signed as east Interstate 580 and west Interstate 80). Photo by Andy Field (12/30/01).
This next sign assembly shows that Interstate 580 and 880 traffic should remain in the left lanes, while Interstate 80/Bay Bridge traffic should remain in the right lanes. The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to the left have direct access to Interstate 80 west even though they are on the left. Interstate 580 and 880 do not have direct HOV access at this time. The westbound Interstate 80 HOV lanes require three occupants to be considered a carpool. Note the recently replaced signage for Interstates 580 and 880; this is the new standard for signage initiated by Caltrans in 1999. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
No trucks are permitted on eastbound Interstate 580 after the Grand Avenue exit. This impacts Interstate 880 by making it into the only truck route between Oakland and the South Bay; a connection for trucks en route to the Central Valley and Los Angeles via eastbound Interstate 580 may use often ridiculed Interstate 238. Interstate 238 serves a major purpose by offering the primary truck route from Oakland and northwestern Alameda County to the Central Valley. Watch for merging trucks through this area. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
This sign reflects the exact lane allocation for each of the three roads: Interstates 580, 880, and 80 from left to right. No mention is made of access to California 24 at this interchange, but other signs recommend using Interstate 580. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
Sign assembly for the three routes, next to flyover for carpool/HOV lane from left side of freeway. This is the beginning of the Maze Interchange. Interstate 80 exits from the Eastshore Freeway at this point, while Interstate 580 and 880 traffic continue south before separating. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
Interstate 580 east and Interstate 880 south split from Interstate 80 west; the freeway enters the infamous Maze Interchange, with a variety of ramps and connections reaching everywhere. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
The left lanes connect to Interstate 580 east to Hayward and Tracy, while the right lanes connect to Interstate 880 south to Alameda and San Jose. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
These reflective signs (placed in 2000) show the split between Interstate 580 eastbound and Interstate 880 southbound. This marks the beginning of Interstate 880 as an extant route, traveling along the eastern shore of the bay via the Nimitz Freeway. There are no BEGIN signs located here. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
Interstate 880 begins with two southbound lanes, but it will widen to four lanes upon merging with the lanes that connect eastbound Interstate 80 with southbound Interstate 880. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
Perspective from Interstate 880 South
The first exit after the Maze Interchange is West Grand Avenue. This is the recently completed Cypress Viaduct, which carries Interstate 880 through Oakland. The original freeway was destroyed as a result of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. There are few exits along this stretch. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
This picture shows the first overhead marking reassurance of Interstate 880 southbound. Unfortunately the rain had gotten worse. Photo by AARoads (11/26/04).
Perspective from Interstate 880 North
Northbound Interstate 880 passing under the Interstate 980 viaduct. After the Market Street exit, there are only two exits remaining: Grand Avenue and Westbound Interstate 80 (toll). Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
The "San Francisco Exit" along Northbound Interstate 880 is actually the interchange with westbound Interstate 80. The next exit is 7th Street and Grand Avenue in Oakland. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Northbound Interstate 880 at 7th Street and Grand Avenue in Oakland. Compare this stretch of freeway with the new Cypress Viaduct section just ahead. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Northbound Interstate 880 splits between Interstate 80 west to San Francisco (left exit) and Interstate 80 east/Interstate 580 west to Sacramento and San Rafael (Marin County). Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
This roadside sign advises that the right lanes should be used to connect to Interstate 80 east en route to Emeryville and Berkeley. The left lanes of northbound Interstate 880 will transition directly onto the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (westbound Interstate 80) en route to San Francisco. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Northbound Interstate 880 reaches the split in the route, where the left lanes travel northwest to meet Interstate 80 west to San Francisco, while the right lanes angle north to join with northbound Interstates 80 and 580. This section was completed in the late 1990s as part of the Cypress Freeway. There are no END signs present at this interchange. The ramps leading from this point form a "Y," as Interstate 80 is still a good distance north of this point. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Perspective from Interstate 880 North Connection to Interstate 80 West
Interstate 880 narrows on the new viaduct to two lanes plus HOV as it approaches Interstate 80. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
What a view! The Interstate 880 Cypress Viaduct affords tremendous views of the bay as well as the City and the bay bridge. Interstate 80 crawls up to meet Interstate 880 from below, which becomes visible to the right. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
The Cypress Viaduct flies above Oakland as northbound Interstate 880 approaches the bay bridge. On clear days like this one, the City of San Francisco is visible across the bay. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
Although it would be helpful to know what the toll is for taking the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is, these signs instead indicate that Interstate 880 is transitioning onto westbound Interstate 80 and that the penalty for evading the toll can be $100 or more. But in case you are wondering, as of 2003, the toll remains only $2 per vehicle. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
Northbound Interstate 880 approaching the bay bridge toll plaza. The HOV exit is for buses only. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
Northbound Interstate 880 ends as it merges with Interstate 80 and enters the toll booths. There is one more exit before the toll - West Grand Avenue. Motorists should use caution to use the cash lanes in case they don't carry Fastrak. After the toll booths, metering lights may be activated to control the flow and pace of cars across the bridge. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
Perspective from Interstate 880 North Connection to Interstate 80 East/Interstate 580 West
On the other branch, Interstate 880 north follows an elevated route to connect it with Interstate 80 eastbound and Interstate 580 westbound. The ramp flies over the top of the Maze Interchange, avoiding much of the traffic and ramps below. Photo taken AARoads (11/26/04).
The skyline of downtown Oakland comes into view to the right (east) of the transition ramp from northbound Interstate 880 to eastbound Interstate 80/westbound Interstate 580. Photo taken AARoads (11/26/04).
The three-lane transition ramp includes one high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane as well as two through lanes. San Francisco Bay comes into view to the west as the ramp continues on its bridge over the Maze Interchange. Photo taken AARoads (11/26/04).
As the transition ramp from northbound Interstate 880 descends from its heights, it merges onto eastbound Interstate 80 and westbound Interstate 580 on the left. Photo taken AARoads (11/26/04).
Northbound Interstate 880 ends as the transition ramp merges onto eastbound Interstate 80 and westbound Interstate 580 (northbound Eastshore Freeway). Photo taken AARoads (11/26/04).
Perspective from Interstate 580 West
Interstate 580 enters the fray from the east, first providing access to Interstate 80 east and then to Interstate 80 west. There is no access from westbound Interstate 580 to southbound Interstate 880. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Prior to the Loma Prieta Earthquake, Interstate 880 entered the Maze interchange near this point, where Interstate 80 and Interstate 580 meet. With the reconstruction, Interstate 880 was relocated further to the west along the Cypress Viaduct thus avoiding more of this busy interchange. This interchange was the original western terminus of Interstate 580 until it was extended in the mid-1980s to San Rafael in Marin County. Photo taken by AARoads (11/26/04).
Perspective from Interstate 80 West
After taking the ramp from westbound Interstate 580 to westbound Interstate 80, the Cypress Viaduct structure (which carries Interstate 880) becomes visible in the distance. Note the stopped traffic in anticipation of the toll booths. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).
Westbound Interstate 80 approaching the merge with Interstate 880 and the toll booths prior to the bay bridge. Photo taken by Andy Field (08/24/03).

Sources:

  1. "Two new lanes to unplug bottleneck near 101." San Jose Mercury News, October 11, 2003.
  2. "Nimitz Construction reaches final stretch.: Contra Costa Times, May 8, 2005, page A9.

Page Updated January 13, 2007.

 
Mileage

State California
Mileage 47.22
Cities San Jose, Oakland
Junctions Interstate 280, Interstate 238, Interstate 980, Interstate 80
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-880 California Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
California San Jose 153,000 2002
California Milpitas 161,000 2002
California Fremont 189,000 2002
California Hayward 275,000 2002
California Oakland 256,000 2002
California northwest Oakland 118,000 2002
Source: Caltrans, Traffic Operations Program - Traffic and Vehicle Data Systems [2002]
Complete Interstate 880 AADT data.

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