Interstate 29 serves the Upper Midwest and Great Plains region between Kansas City and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The freeway parallels the Missouri River between Kansas City and Sioux City, Iowa before straightening out along a northerly heading to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota.
The southernmost 5.5 miles of Interstate 29 runs along side I-35 north from the Alphabet Loop encircling Downtown Kansas City. I-35 branches eastward to Claycomo and Liberty while I-29 turns west toward Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and a short overlap along side I-435, the Kansas City Beltway.
Leaving the Kansas City area, I-29 bee lines north along low rolling hills to St. Joseph, where an urban loop, I-229 serves Downtown while I-29 bypasses the city to the east. U.S. 71 leaves the I-29 corridor north of St. Joseph while I-29 bends northwest to Mound City and southwest Iowa parallel to the Missouri River.
While never entering the state of Nebraska, bridges across the Missouri join the I-29 corridor with Nebraska City and Plattsmouth on the northern drive to Council Bluffs. Once in Council Bluffs, I-29 takes a dog leg along side I-80 west before following an S curve northward to Interstate 680. I-680 previously combined with Interstate 29 for ten miles to Loveland. The overlap was dropped with the renumbering of the eastern branch of I-680 (former I-80N) as Interstate 880 in November 2019.
Shifting westward again toward the Missouri River, I-29 traverses flat areas while en route to Sioux City. The freeway hugs the east banks of the river by Downtown, with I-129 providing a western link to South Sioux City, Nebraska. Just north of there, I-29 crosses into South Dakota.
Interstate 29 turns again at Junction City along the northward course to Sioux Falls in southeastern South Dakota. I-229 forms an urban loop east to Downtown while I-29 stays to the west through suburban areas between Tea and Renner. A handful of east and westerly shifts occur along the route between Sioux Falls and Brookings, home of South Dakota State University.
Traveler services decrease in frequency as I-29 advances from Brookings north northwest to Watertown. The long exit less stretches and generous sight lines justify the 80 mile per hour speed limits along the freeway to the North Dakota state line. The landscape remains similar through southeastern North Dakota.
I-29 transitions from rural to suburban and urban settings northward into Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota. 2018 traffic counts recorded by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) topped out at 77,610 vehicles per day (vpd) along the section just north of I-94. North of the metropolitan area, the rural freeway reduces to 13,570 vpd, and only increases to 17,675 vpd through Grand Forks, the last regional city along the route. Traffic counts along I-29 trickle to below 5,000 vpd beyond Drayton and just 2,870 at the Canadian border north of Pembina.
Construction through 2022 rebuilds Interstate 29 from south of Council Bluffs and the interchange with north to Council Bluffs ahead of 25th Street. Work modernizes the 1960s-era freeway to eliminate left side ramps, separate the overlap with Interstate 80 into a dual freeway, and add capacity. The Council Bluffs Interstate System Needs Study by the city of Council Bluffs and the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency between 1997 and 1999 determined that the current I-29 was outdated, did not meet modern design standards or operational criteria and was over capacity. Iowa DOT started the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program in 2002 to address the issues raised by the study. Initial work commenced in 2006 with a lane addition along the concurrent I-29 south and I-80 east section.
Major work reconfigured the West System Interchange, where I-29 and I-80 merge just east of the Missouri River and the East System Interchange, where the two split for Des Moines and St. Joseph respectively. Construction at the West System Interchange was completed in July 2017, while efforts at the East System Interchange continued through September 2019.
Eliminating weaving traffic patterns, a revamp of the I-29/80 overlap separated both routes into a dual, divided freeway. Additional construction improved the geometry of the interchanges with Nebraska Avenue (Exit 52), the South Expressway Street (Exit 3) and Iowa 92 (Exit 47). Phase II construction was completed by January 2019. Work on Phase III got underway in August 2019 and runs until August 2021.
Construction programmed for November 2020 to July 2023 at the West Broadway Interchange with Interstate 480 will replace left exit ramps along I-29 northbound, add access to U.S. 6 (Broadway) and reconfigured ramps at Avenue G, N 35th Street and 9th Avenue.
The I-29 Improvement Project, upgrading the freeway through Sioux City, Iowa, was completed in 2019. Split into three segments, construction along Segment 1 commenced in August 2010, with work on Segment 3, a reconstruction of the northbound lanes to the South Dakota state line, completed in 2012. This phase included six-laning the freeway and improving ramps at the interchanges with Singing Hills Boulevard and Interstate 129. Started in Spring 2012, Segment 2 widened I-29 to six overall lanes and upgrading several interchanges through the Downtown area.
Prior work identified in a 1997 needs study for I-29 included changes at the diamond interchange (Exit 141) with Sergeant Bluff Road. This was completed in 2003. The I-29 Sioux City corridor planning study commenced in 2004, leading to initial construction in August 2008 at the Riverside Boulevard interchange. That exchange was converted from a trumpet to a diamond interchange.9
The Official Route Numbering for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways adopted on August 14, 1957 included two separate routes for what is now Interstate 29. The southern segment followed the route between Kansas City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Designated Interstate 31, the northern portion ran from Fargo, North Dakota to the Canadian border. Interstate system additions approved on October 18, 1957 included 230 miles of freeway linking the two routes.1
North End – Pembina, ND
South End – Kansas City, MO
Branch Routes – 3
Total Mileage – 755.51
Missouri – 130.72*
Cities – Kansas City, St. Joseph
Iowa – 154.75#
Cities – Council Bluffs, Sioux City
- Junctions –
South Dakota – 252.50
Cities – Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Brookings, Waterton
- Junctions –
North Dakota – 217.54
Cities – Wahpeton, Fargo, Grand Forks
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 5.50 miles on I-35, # – 3.00 miles on I-80
The North Midtown Freeway was completed by 1958 from the Intercity Viaduct (U.S. 24-40-73) to Armour Road (former Missouri Route 10) and north to the split of I-29/35 by 1961.
The oldest sections of Interstate 29 were the sections from Council Bluffs to Missouri Valley and from Onawa to the South Dakota state line. Both were completed by 1961.
Interstate 29 directly overlays most of U.S. 81 from the South Dakota state line to the International border. Business loops through Grand Forks and Fargo are either signed as U.S. 81 or U.S. 81 Business. The portion north of Exit 203 remains co-signed as I-29/U.S. 81.
The Paseo Bridge, the original suspension bridge carrying I-29/35 across the Missouri River in Kansas City, was built as part of a master plan to upgrade both the U.S. 71 and U.S. 69 corridors into freeways leading into Downtown Kansas City. The span was conceptualized in 1949 as part of a City Plan Commission study. It was constructed in 1951-1952 and dedicated as U.S. 69 Alternate in August 1954 as a toll facility.5 Toll collection was retired once the bonds were paid off.
Interstate 29 previously extended further in Downtown Kansas City, running along the north and west legs of the Alphabet Loop. Changes were proposed by Missouri to American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on November 15, 1975, which conditionally approved a relocation of I-35 from the east and south legs of the Downtown loop to replace I-29. The south leg was also proposed to be redesignated as an extension of Interstate 670. AASHTO deferred action on that request, but approved the I-35 relocation on November 12, 1976.
The KcICON project10 upgraded 4.7 miles of I-29/35 from I-70 northward to Missouri Route 210 (Exit 6). The $245 million project included the replacement of the aging Paseo Bridge and revisions to interchanges with The Paseo, Front Street and Armour Road among others. Overall work ran from March 2008 to February 2011. The new cable-stayed span across the Missouri River, the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, was dedicated on September 27, 2010. Dismantling of the old bridge followed through 2011.
Construction along Interstate 29 in Missouri originated with soil work at the bridge site for Pigeon Creek south of St. Joseph by early 1957. The freeway was completed in the Show Me State on July 28, 1976, when an 18.7-mile portion of freeway opened in Atchison County. Total cost for the 125-mile route in Missouri was $112 million.8
Interstate 29 opened according to the following schedule (from south to north) in the state of Iowa:4
- Missouri State Line north to County Route J-64: August 31, 1973
- County Route J-64 to Iowa 2: December 15, 1972
- Iowa 2 to County Route J-18: December 1, 1972
- County Route J-18 to U.S. 34: December 10, 1971
- U.S. 34 to Iowa 370: December 4, 1971
- Iowa 370 to Iowa 192: December 22, 1969
- Iowa 192 to I-80 West/23rd Avenue: November 1, 1970
- I-80 West/23rd Avenue to 9th Avenue: November 10, 1971
- 9th Avenue to Iowa 192: October 25, 1968
- Iowa 192 to U.S. 30: November 26, 1958
- U.S. 30 to Iowa 175: December 7, 1967
- Iowa 175 to Iowa 141: October 26, 1961
- Iowa 141 to Business U.S. 75: November 28, 1959
- Business U.S. 75 to U.S. 20-77: July 15, 1960
- U.S. 20-77 to South Dakota State Line: October 1, 1958
Interstate 29 opened in stages through South Dakota between the late 1950s at Sioux Falls and 1982, when the segment between Exit 224 (Peever) and Exit 246 (New Effington) was completed.7 Within Sioux Falls a $33-million upgrade of I-29 was finished in September 2003. This road work involved the reconstruction of two substandard interchanges within the city:
- Exit 83 / SD 38 – The wye interchange with a left side ramp from southbound to SD 38 (Russell Street) was removed.
- Exit 82 / Benson Road – A Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) was constructed at Benson Road.
- Exit 81 / Maple Street – The half diamond interchange with Maple Street was upgraded into a six-ramp parclo interchange, offsetting the removal of ramps at the former wye to the north.
These projects were a part of an overall improvement and widening plan for Interstate 29 between Madison Street (Exit 73) and I-90 (Exit 84). The construction was the largest single road related project completed in the state at the time.2
The final section of Interstate 29 to be completed in North Dakota was the portion from Drayton to Pembina in 1977. With this completion, North Dakota became the first state to complete all sections of its Interstate system.6
Within the city of Fargo, upgrades to Interstate 29 included the addition of a third northbound lane through the interchange with I-94. This led to the Main Avenue interchange, where new loop ramps were constructed and the overpass for Main Avenue replaced. This work started in 2004 and ran in conjunction with 2005-07 widening of I-29 to six lanes from Main Avenue to 19th Avenue North.3
North End – International Border – Pembina, North Dakota
A northbound wayside provides access to the Dumolin Church historical site just prior to the border inspection station. 06/16/15
A third turn-off follows for the duty free shop as the Canadian customs station comes into view. Beyond customs, the roadway transitions to Provincial Trunk Highway 75. PTH 75 is a continuation of U.S. 75, which until 2006, crossed into Emerson, Manitoba from Noyes, Minnesota east of the Red River. Photo taken by Rich Piehl (07/06/02).
As is common at border crossings, this sign (replaced by 2007 with a green and white panel) showed the last U-turn available for the United States. This turnaround however lies beyond the border inspection station. Photo taken by Rich Piehl (07/06/02).
The 49th Parallel marker is the official demarcation between the United States and Canada. This sign stands just beyond the last turnaround for the U.S. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (06/09/01).
PTH 75 south at
PTH 75 used to branch east from its expressway just north of the U.S. port of entry. It connected with PR 200 (Main Street) in Emerson. This alignment was dropped once the border station at Noyes, Minnesota permanently closed in 2006. As a result PR 200 was extended westward over the former PTH 75.
New signs posted here by 2012 replaced PTH 75 with PR 200 and I-29 with a U.S. Customs lane allocation sign. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).
Eastbound ND 59 meets I-29/U.S. 81 at a diamond interchange on the west side of Pembina. I-29/U.S. 81 proceed 2.3 miles north to the International border. Continuing east across the Red River, ND 59 east becomes MN 171, a short connector to U.S. 75 south of Noyes. This sign was replaced by 2015. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).
South End – Kansas City, Missouri
north east at
Ramps from I-670 east and U.S. 71 north converge with I-70/U.S. 40 at the 11th Street underpass, just one quarter mile south of the three wye interchange (Exit 2G) with I-29/35 north. U.S. 71 uses the east leg of the Downtown loop from Hospital Hill to continue north along I-29/35 to the Columbus Park Industrial area. 06/18/15
2.3 miles north of the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, I-29 and I-35 split at a three wye interchange (Exit 8B). I-29/U.S. 71 turn northwesterly and mirror the course of the Missouri River to St. Joseph. I-35 curves northeast, doubling as part of the Chicago Kansas City Expressway (CKC / Route 110) to Cameron. 06/18/15
South End Throwback
The diagrammatic sign along I-70/U.S. 40 west at 10th Street posted with button copy Interstate shields. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1982).
- “The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways – Part I – History.” FHWA web site.
- 29 Russell.
http://www.29-russell.com/South Dakota Department of Transportation project web site.
- I-29 Fargo: Project Details.
http://www.i29fargo.com/project/ND Department of Transportation project web site.
- “Iowa Completion Status of Interstate System as of January 1, 1982.” Iowa Department of Transportation.
- Environmental Impact Statement for Paseo Bridge Replacement Project – April 2006.
- “Sprynczynatyk Attends Kick-Off Celebration for 50th Anniversary of the Interstate Highway System.” North Dakota DOT Communications, January 23, 2006,
- The Unofficial South Dakota Highways Page: Highways 1 to 30.
- “Interstates celebrate golden anniversary Last section of I-29 opened in July 1976 ” St. Joseph News-Press (MO), June 26, 2006.
- Background – I-29 Improvement Project web site.
Page updated January 31, 2020.