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 double 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 making an ess curve northward to Interstate 680. I-680 (former I-80N) combines with Interstate 29 for ten miles to Loveland.
Migrating 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 for the trek 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 few east and west 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.
Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota, seen traffic counts increase to 53,445 vehicles per day (vpd) in 2014, as I-29 transitions from rural to suburban and urban settings. North of the metropolitan area, the rural freeway reduces to 13,110 vpd, and only increases to 14,300 vpd through Grand Forks, the last city of significance along the route. Traffic counts along I-29 trickle to below 5,000 vpd beyond Drayton and just 2,915 at the Canadian border north of Pembina.
Construction through 2022 rebuilds Interstate 29 from south of Council Bluffs and the Iowa 92 interchange to north Council Bluffs ahead of 25th Street. Work modernizes the 1960s-era freeway to eliminate left-hand 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 & 80 east section.
Major work is now underway involving the redesign of the West System Interchange, where Interstates 29 and 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 runs through July 2017, while efforts at the East System Interchange continue through September 2019.
A revamp of the overlap between Interstates 29 and 80 separates both routes into a dual, divided freeway. This will eliminate weaving traffic patterns. Additional construction improves the geometry of the interchanges with Nebraska Avenue (Exit 52), South Expressway Street (Exit 3) and Iowa 92 (Exit 47).
Future construction addresses the West Broadway Interchange with Interstate 480 to replace left-hand ramps along Interstate 29 northbound, add access to U.S. 6 (Broadway) and potentially add new ramps to 2nd Avenue. This work is projected to run from 2020 to 2024.
Upgrades to the freeway through Sioux City, Iowa are underway through 2019 as part of the I-29 Improvement Project. 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. Segment 2 started in spring 2012. It entails widening 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 contruction in August 2008 at the Riverside Boulevard interchange. That exchange was converted from a trumpet into 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 current freeway between Kansas City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The northern portion was designated Interstate 31 and ran from Fargo, North Dakota north 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 10) and north to the split of Interstates 29 and 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 Interstates 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 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 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. Action on that request was deferred but the approval of the I-35 relocation was made by AASHTO on November 12, 1976.
The KcICON project10 upgraded 4.7 miles of I-29 & 35 from I-70 northward to Missouri 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 bridge 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 Exits 224 (Peever) and 246 (New Effington) was completed.7 Within Sioux Falls a $33-million upgrade of Interstate 29 was finished in September 2003. This road work entailed the reconstruction of two substandard interchanges within the city:
- Exit 83 / South Dakota 38 – The wye interchange with a left-hand ramp from southbound to South Dakota 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 Interstate 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
|Perspective from Interstate 29/U.S. 81 north|
|Entering the final mile of Interstate 29 north leading to the Canadian Port of Entry. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|A northbound wayside provides access to the Dumolin Church historical site just prior to the border inspection station. Photo taken 06/16/15.
Read about the site at the AARoads Blog.
|A duty free store resides just south of the Canadian border along the left-hand side of Interstate 29. A paved loop circles in front of the location prior to the port of entry. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|The inspections and customs requirements vary for different types of vehicles. The port of entry beyond I-29’s end specifies commercial truck traffic move to the right. While traffic counts are light north of Grand Forks, trucks make up a large percentage of the volume. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|Speed limits gradually reduce from 75 to 60, 45 and 25 miles per hour as motorists approach the queue into Canada. The border patrol station comes into view to the left beyond an adjacent truck parking area. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|Interstate 29 (and U.S. 81) comes to an end as motorists reach the truck parking area. A second left-hand turn follows for the customs and border protection information parking area and a service road back southbound to I-29 & U.S. 81. Photo taken 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 standard green and white panel) showed the last U-turn available for the United States. However it is unclear if drivers using this turnaround are required to pass through the border inspection station. Instead travelers headed back south should turn around at the previous parking area turn-off. 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).|
|Perspective from Provincial Trunk Highway 75 south|
|This overhead sign (replaced by 2012) at Provincial Road 243 west was the first appearance of an Interstate 29 shield posted along Provincial Trunk Highway 75 south. The international border lies a short distance ahead. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).|
|Provincial Trunk Highway 75 used to branch east from its expressway just north of the U.S. port of entry. It connected with Provincial Road 200 (Main Street) in Emerson. This alignment was dropped once the border station at Noyes, Minnesota was permanently closed in 2006. As a result PR 200 was extended westward over the former PTH 75.
This set of overheads was replaced by 2012 and PTH 75 was replaced with PR 200 on the left-hand panel while the reference to I-29 was replaced with a U.S. Customs lane allocation sign. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).
|Perspective from Provincial Road 200 west|
|A PTH 29 marker was posted along PR 200 (former PTH 75) west ahead of the expressway linking the south end of PTH 75 with the north end of Interstate 29. This was changed by 2012 to reflect the realignment of PTH 75 south to North Dakota. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).|
|This shield assembly directs motorists at the west end of PR 200 (former PTH 75) onto PTH 75 north toward Winnipeg and the border station south to Interstate 29. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).|
|Perspective from Interstate 29 & U.S. 81 south|
|A connector provides access from the border station service road back to the northbound lanes leading into Manitoba. Visible to the left is the northbound truck parking area. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|A monument appears between the service road and the Interstate 29 lanes exiting the U.S. port of entry. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|Motorists exiting the inspection lanes may also turn around back toward Canada. All traffic otherwise continues southward toward Pembina. Photo taken 06/16/15.|
|Just south of the border station is the first reassurance shield assembly for Interstate 29 and U.S. 81. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).|
|A Pembina County line sign (since replaced with a Clearview-font based panel) lies just south of the first I-29 shield. The first exit is for the small city of Pembina. Interstate 29 otherwise continues southward, with U.S. 81 splitting at Exit 203 and rejoining the freeway north of Grand Forks. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (05/10/07).|
|Perspective from North Dakota 59 east|
|Eastbound North Dakota 59 meets Interstate 29 and U.S. 81 at a diamond interchange on the west side of Pembina. I-29 & U.S. 81 proceed 2.3 miles further north. This is significant in that other border Interstates see interchanges much closer to the international boundary.
North Dakota 59 east otherwise becomes Minnesota 171 east, 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
- “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 July 22, 2016.