Interstate 280 Iowa / Illinois
Forming the western and southern half of Quad Cities (Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf, and Davenport) beltway system, Interstate 280 provides a bypass for long distance travelers between Des Moines and Chicago. The freeway begins at a rural directional T interchange with I-80/U.S. 6 in northwest Davenport. Heading south, the route doubles as U.S. 61 by West Lake Park to W River Drive, where U.S. 61 turns west toward Blue Grass and Muscatine. The remainder of I-280 in Iowa angles southeast to cross the Mississippi River near Credit Island Park.
Within Illinois, I-280 travels generally from west to east while paralleling the Rock River. A freeway spur, Illinois Route 92 / Centennial Expressway, connects the bypass with Downtown Rock Island from Exit 11. East from there and the Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel complex, Interstate 280 continues through the village of Milan to Quad City International Airport (MLI).
Just north of the airport is the cloverleaf interchange joining I-280 with Interstate 74. The two overlap along a 9.4 mile long exit less stretch east to the Big X Interchange joining I-74 with I-80/IL 110 (Chicago Kansas City Expressway). There I-74 turns south toward Galesburg and Peoria.
Within Iowa, the northernmost connection between U.S. 6/County Road F58 and I-80 opened along with Interstate 80 between U.S. 61 (Exit 295) and Iowa 38 (Exit 267) on December 1, 1960. The remainder of the freeway though Davenport opened to traffic on October 25, 1973.2
A designation change was proposed by the state of Illinois in 1991 to renumber existing I-280 as Interstate 80, change existing I-80 to Interstate 74, and redesignate the north to south section of I-74, including the twin suspension bridges, as Interstate 174. This action was not considered by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at their Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering meeting on June 10, 1991 because the state of Iowa did not submit companion applications.
Iowa – 9.38
Illinois – 17.60*
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 9.39 miles on I-74
Interstate 280 within Iowa consisted of just a connector between I-80 and U.S. 6 (Kimberly Road) from 1960 to 1973. U.S. 6 was relocated onto this connector in 1980 as it bypassed Walcott, Durant and Wilton via I-80 west.
Interstate 80 west defaulted onto I-74/280 to U.S. 6/150 south of Moline. The tolled Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge (later I-74) carried the bulk of through traffic at the time.
Illinois contested that shifting Interstate 80 to the Southwest Loop over I-280 would improve safety at the cloverleaf interchange where I-74 and I-80 both make TOTSO (turn off to stay on) movements near Colona. Economic advantages were also suggested for Rock Island, as the move from I-280 to I-80 would shift the city from the “local” route to the national one. The numbering debate between the two states continued to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ruling made on July 1, 1993, which retained I-80 and I-280 on their current alignments.3
The tied arch bridge across the Mississippi River was originally painted blue and gold, per a public opinion survey conducted by the Times-Democrat in 1972. The survey provided four choices for the span: interstate blue, interstate green, international airways orange and the blue/yellow combination. The blue/yellow scheme won with 3,446 votes out of 8,300. Officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) also advocated for local input in the bridge color selection in 1972, concurring with the eventual paint scheme. The span was eventually repainted simply blue in 2007.4
Further changes for the I-280 were made in May 2008 when the bridge was formally named the Sgt. John F. Baker, Jr. Bridge in honor of the only Quad Cities area Medal of Honor recipient. Approved by Illinois lawmakers, the honor was bestowed upon the 24 year Army veteran who, was awarded the medal in 1966 for carrying fellow wounded soldiers to safety during a battle in the Vietnam War.5
East End – Colona, Illinois
West North at
East South at
West End – Davenport, Iowa
West North at
West South at
- Stephen Summers’s Interstate system route numbering page.
- Iowa Completion Status of Interstate System as of January 1, 1982. Iowa Department of Transportation.
- “Iowa Wins Interstate – Interstate Battle FHWA Won’t Change NUmbering of Highways in Quad Cities Region.” Peoria Journal Star, The (IL), July 3, 1993.
- “I-280 bridge gets the blues – Span no longer will sport unique yellow on arch.” Quad-City Times, The (IA), September 14, 2007.
- “Illinois set to name I-280 bridge after Vietnam War hero – John F. Baker Jr. is a Medal of Honor recipient.” Quad-City Times, The (IA), May 3, 2008.
Page updated June 28, 2022.