Interstate 980 is a short freeway constructed during the 1980s that connects Interstate 880 with California 24 through downtown Oakland. Interstate 980 serves as part of the principal path for the East Bay communities of Walnut Creek and Concord to reach downtown Oakland and the Oakland International Airport. Between 1989 and 1999, Interstate 980 also served as a detour route for the collapsed Interstate 880 freeway between Interstate 980 and Interstate 80. When Interstate 880 reopened, Interstate 980 returned to its original function of providing downtown access.
Interstate 980 is poorly signed on the mainline (but it is well signed from most approaches). There are no Interstate 980 reassurance shields on the mainline. In fact, at least one reassurance shield on westbound, two reassurance shields on eastbound, and most overhead signs heading eastbound show California 24, and at least one shield and most overhead signs heading westbound show Interstate 880. The only standalone Interstate 980 shields are found on Oakland city streets that have freeway entrance assemblies to eastbound Interstate 980 and California 24. By comparison, Interstate 238 through San Leandro and Hayward is well-signed.
There is no connection from westbound Interstate 980 to northbound Interstate 880 or from southbound Interstate 880 to eastbound Interstate 980.
Interstate 980 was approved to be added to California's Interstate Highway System mileage in 1976 (0.80 mile section), designated by the Federal Highway Administration in 1983, added to the California State Highway System in 1984, and opened on March 6, 1985.1 This short, freeway was hurriedly placed into active duty as a full-scale freeway when it became the replacement to Interstate 880 after portions of the double-decked Nimitz Freeway between Interstate 980 and Interstate 80 collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Since the reconstruction of Interstate 880 and the new Cypress Street Viaduct/Freeway, Interstate 980 has resumed its original role as a connection between Interstate 880 and California 24. Interstate 980 was added to the Interstate Highway System due to its funding; otherwise, it would have been constructed as part of the California 24 freeway.
There are no plans to extend the Interstate 980 designation east or west at this time; however, California 24 is planned to assume full Interstate standards upon completion of a fourth bore at the Caldecott Tunnel between Berkeley and Orinda. The tunnel project was completed on November 16, 2013.
The last westbound California 24 reassurance marker sits in the shadows of the Interstate 580/980 interchange. Interstate 980 begins here, but it is basically unsigned from here onward Photo taken 08/24/03.
View of the Interstate 880/980 stack interchange just east of downtown Oakland. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Westbound Interstate 980 approaching its first solo exit, 27th Street/Grand Avenue. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Westbound Interstate 980 at 27th Street/Grand Avenue. Note that the Bay Area Rapid Transit line carried over from California 24 remains, but it will turn northwest to reach the Trans-Bay Tube en route to San Francisco. Photo taken 08/24/03.
The downtown Oakland downtown skyline looms as westbound Interstate 980 approaches its second exit, 18th Street/14th Street. Photo taken 08/24/03.
This overhead is located and Interstate 980 west ahead of the 18th/14th Street departure ramp. The 12th/14th Street ramp follows next. Photo taken 08/24/03.
As soon as it begins, Interstate 980 prepares to end. This photo shows westbound Interstate 980 at Exit 1A, 12th Street, only a short distance after the Interstate 580 interchange. The freeway turns southwest as it prepares to merge with southbound Interstate 880. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Westbound Interstate 980 after the 12th Street exit in downtown. The next exit is for Jackson Street. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Onramp from near 12th Street onto westbound Interstate 980 and southbound Interstate 880 in downtown Oakland. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Westbound Interstate 980 approaching Jackson Street, the last exit along westbound before merging into Interstate 880. The proximity of the exit to the merge with Interstate 880 is shown in the next photobox. Photo taken 08/24/03.
View of Interstate 880 as seen from the mainline of Interstate 980 west. Interstate 980 merges onto southbound Interstate 880 with no access to northbound Interstate 880. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Westbound Interstate 980 ends here, as traffic exits to Jackson Street, and the mainline merges onto southbound Interstate 880. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Perspective from Interstate 880 north
This mileage sign along northbound Interstate 880 shows three exits along northbound: Oak Street, Broadway, and junction eastbound Interstate 980 into downtown. Photo taken 11/26/04.
The sign indicates that for Emeryville and Powell Street, traffic should use Interstate 980 east to its junction with Interstate 580, then Interstate 580 northwest. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Another view of the same sign, taken ten years earlier. This advisory sign was installed while Interstate 880 was being rebuilt between Interstate 980 and Interstate 80. This sign was removed shortly after the Interstate 880 Cypress Replacement Freeway was opened in 1998. Vidcap taken 04/93.
The Oakland Convention Center can be reached by following eastbound Interstate 980. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Northbound Interstate 880 at the Broadway exit in Oakland. The next exit is for eastbound Interstate 980 into downtown Oakland. Photo taken 11/26/04.
This is a close-up of the Interstate 980 to California 24 overhead on Interstate 880 northbound. When this vidcap was taken, Interstate 880 was still incomplete due to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. All Interstate 880 through traffic was diverted to Interstate 980 east to get to both Interstates 80 and 580. What was left of Interstate 880 north of this interchange was signed with Local Traffic Only. A Right Lane Only overlay had been affixed to the bottom of this sign after 1993. Vidcap taken 04/93.
This mileage sign is located one-half mile south of the Interstate 980 junction along northbound Interstate 880 in Oakland. Photo taken 11/26/04.
The two right lanes along northbound Interstate 880 transition onto eastbound Interstate 980; the right lane is exit only while the number four lane is an optional lane. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Northbound Interstate 880 reaches the transition ramp to eastbound Interstate 980 (to California 24). Note that it is signed as To California 24, which is located a little less than two miles east of this interchange. The flyover ramp in the background of the sign is the connection from westbound Interstate 980 onto southbound Interstate 880. Also note that the through traffic signage points to Interstate 80 as well as Interstate 880. Photo taken 11/26/04.
After the overhead sign, here is a view of the split between Interstate 880 north and Interstate 980 east. Interstate 880 continues north to connect to Interstate 80 east to Berkeley and Albany and west to San Francisco. California 24 travels east toward Walnut Creek. Note the first exit on Interstate 980 eastbound is 11th Street and 14th Street. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Perspective from Interstate 880 south
Now looking at the same interchange from southbound Interstate 880, the overcrossing in the distance carries westbound Interstate 980 over Interstate 880. The overcrossing has an exit for Jackson Street, then merges onto southbound Interstate 880/Nimitz Freeway. Photo taken 11/26/04.
There is no connection from southbound Interstate 880 to eastbound Interstate 980, and there is no mentioning of the interchange between the two routes along southbound Interstate 880. The theory is that anyone who wanted to use Interstate 980 east to California 24 would have used Interstate 580 eastbound instead. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Southbound Interstate 880/Nimitz Freeway reaches the onramp from westbound Interstate 980. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 580 and California 24 - Oakland, California
Perspective from Interstate 980 east
After the split from Interstate 980, the short freeway reaches its first two exits to downtown Oakland; this picture shows the second offramp to 17th Street and San Pablo Avenue. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Immediately thereafter, signs start pointing to the Interstate 580 and California 24 interchange. This sign indicates that traffic destined to Interstate 80 should use Interstate 580 east (via the Maze Interchange). Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 eastbound at junction Interstate 580. Interstate 980 transitions into California 24 at this symmetrical stack interchange. There are no reassurance or end shields for Interstate 980. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 eastbound approaching the ramp to junction Interstate 580. Left lanes continue onto California 24, while right lanes exit onto Interstate 580. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Eastbound Interstate 980 is signed as eastbound California 24 even before reaching the junction with Interstate 580. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 eastbound reaches Exit 2, Junction Interstate 580. Interstate 580 is former U.S. 50; it travels northwest toward San Francisco and Marin County and southeast toward Hayward and the Central Valley. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Eastbound Interstate 980/California 24 takes the bottom level of the symmetrical stack with Interstate 580. Interstate 980 ends as it crosses under the interchange. Photo taken 07/05/04.
View of the Interstate 980 and Interstate 580 symmetrical stack interchange. Photo taken 07/05/04.
The right lane of eastbound Interstate 980 becomes exit only for Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 51st Street in the shadow of the symmetrical stack interchange. Photo taken 07/05/04.
After the auxiliary lane for Martin Luther King Jr. Way/51st Street forms at the bottom of the stack interchange, eastbound Interstate 980 basically transitions into eastbound California 24. There is no end shield present. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Eastbound Interstate 980/California 24 reaches the offramp for Martin Luther King Jr. Way/51st Street. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Perspective from California 24 west
View of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station located near Telegraph Avenue. The next exit is for Telegraph Avenue, followed by Interstate 580. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Westbound California 24 approaching Junction Interstate 580, one mile. There is no mention of Interstate 980 on this approach sign. Photo taken 08/16/03.
This mileage sign along westbound California 24 shows that the Interstate 580 interchange is three-quarters of a mile ahead, followed by two downtown Oakland exits that are technically on Interstate 980: West Grand Avenue and 18th Street. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Westbound California 24 approaching Junction Interstate 580. The overheads now indicate that through traffic is defaulted onto Interstate 980 westbound. California 24 more or less ends at this interchange, even though there is one more reassurance shield for California 24 after the offramp for Interstate 580. That assembly should be an END assembly. Photo taken 08/16/03.
At this interchange, westbound California 24 transitions onto westbound Interstate 980. The two right lanes lead onto Interstate 580 southeast and northwest. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Perspective from Interstate 580 east
Eastbound Interstate 580 approaching the MacArthur Boulevard/San Pablo Avenue exit in Oakland. Photo taken 08/16/03.
This sign, located along eastbound Interstate 580, was placed after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 caused Interstate 980 to take over the functions of routing traffic from Interstate 80 to the undamaged section of Interstate 880. Even though Interstate 880 reopened in 1999, the sign remains as a reminder that Interstate 980 is a good alternative route. Photo taken 08/16/03.
A major connection from Interstate 580 is eastbound California 24, which is a major route from Walnut Creek, Concord, and the San Ramon Valley into the East Bay. This picture shows the approach to this exit from eastbound, which requires a two-lane exit. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Eastbound Interstate 580 at Junction Eastbound California 24. The next exit is westbound Interstate 980, which leads through downtown Oakland to reach Interstate 880 and the Oakland International Airport. The sign for Interstate 980 reflects an obvious replacement; apparently the cardinal direction used to be south. Photo taken 08/16/03.
After the exit from eastbound Interstate 580 to eastbound California 24, the next exit is for westbound Interstate 980 into downtown Oakland. Photo taken 08/16/03.
View of the stack interchange that forms the eastern terminus of Interstate 980 and the western terminus of California 24 from the transition ramp from eastbound Interstate 580 to Eastbound california 24. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides service between Oakland and Walnut Creek via the Interstate 980/California 24 median as seen from this image. The freeway leads east through the Caldecott Tunnels, which carry California 24 under the Oakland Hills, to Orinda, Lafayette, and ultimately Walnut Creek (Junction Interstate 680). Photo taken 08/16/03.
Perspective from Interstate 580 west
The first indication of the pending interchange with Interstate 980 along westbound Interstate 580/MacArthur Freeway is this mileage sign, which indicates a Downtown Oakland exit in one mile. That is the code phrase for Junction Interstate 980 west and California 24 east. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Upon reaching the Harrison Street and MacArthur Drive offramp, the first signs appear for Interstate 980 and California 24, with the right lane becoming exit only for this major interchange. The left three lanes of Interstate 580 continue northwest into the legendary Maze Interchange, where Interstate 580, Interstate 880, and Interstate 80 convergence near the eastern approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Photo taken 11/26/04.
The next mileage sign refuses to include highway shields, so it is important to know that Interstate 980 is the first exit, connecting Interstate 580 with downtown Oakland and southbound Interstate 880 (there is no connection from westbound Interstate 980 to northbound Interstate 880). The second exit is the connection to California 24 east to Berkeley, the University of California, the Caldecott Tunnels, and ultimately the city of Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County. All of California 24 is a freeway. Photo taken 11/26/04.
As evidenced by this sign, the right lane is exit only from westbound Interstate 580 to westbound Interstate 980. The sign does not mention that the connection to Interstate 880 is only good for the connection to southbound Interstate 880, not northbound Interstate 880. Use Interstate 980 west to Interstate 880 south to reach the Oakland International Airport. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Westbound Interstate 580/MacArthur Freeway reaches Exit 19D, Junction Interstate 980 west to downtown Oakland and Interstate 880 southbound to Oakland International Airport. The following offramp in this symmetrical stack interchange is for California 24 eastbound to Berkeley and Contra Costa County. Photo taken 11/26/04.
The symmetrical stack interchange for Interstate 980 and California 24 comes into view as westbound Interstate 580 reaches the transition ramp for Exit 19C, Junction California 24 east to Berkeley and Walnut Creek/Concord. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Interstate 980/California 24 forms the bottom level of the four-level stack interchange between Interstate 580 and Interstate 980. This view shows westbound Interstate 580 on the second level as it crosses over Interstate 980/California 24 and passes under the flyover transition ramps between the two major freeways. Photo taken 11/26/04.