Interstate 480 Nebraska / Iowa
Interstate 480 forms the inner belt freeway around central Omaha between I-80 at the Hanscom Park neighborhood and I-29 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. The route serves commuters to Downtown and various points of interest including Creighton University, Charles Schwab Field Omaha (home of the College World Series) and the Midtown Crossing mixed use development along U.S. 6 (Dodge Street).
Interstate 480 doubles as U.S. 75 from I-80 to Exit 2 C and as U.S. 6 across the Missouri River to I-29 at Broadway. The interstate switches cardinal directions at the interchange with the North Freeway (U.S. 75 / former I-580), where it turns east from the Gifford Park neighborhood to Downtown Northeast.
West Broadway Interchange
Construction included in the multiyear Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program addresses the substandard exchange at the east end of Interstate 480 with I-29 and U.S. 6 (Broadway). Upgrades to the West Broadway Interchange include new access from Interstate 29 to Broadway, relocating the freeway mainline so that it no longer separates through the exchange, the construction of new flyovers from the outside lanes of I-29 instead of the inside, and new ramps to 2nd Avenue. Environmental study was conducted between June 2015 and November 2017. Preliminary design and right of way acquisition commenced in 2017. Anticipated construction was between November 2020 and July 2023.19 Work extending to August 2024 finally got underway in April 2021.
Interstate 480 between the Nebraska-Iowa State Line and I-29 in Council Bluffs opened on November 12, 1966.1 This included the 1,687 foot long Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge.2 The eight lane steel plate girder bridge connected with the U.S. 6 couplet of Dodge Street west and Douglas Street east.
Bids for construction on the first leg of Interstate 480 in Omaha were received by Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) in 1960.3 The loop around Downtown Omaha in Nebraska was finished in 1970.4
The previous three wye interchanges joining Interstate 80 with both I-480 north and U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) south were redesigned to eliminate left exit ramps and weaving traffic as part of a ten year, $320 million overhaul of I-80 across Omaha. Work started in April 1989 and was scheduled to wrap up in Fall 1993. Record rains during Spring and Summer 1993 delayed the project to a June 1994 completion. A portion of Interstate 480 was also expanded from four to eight lanes.5,6
Construction in 2001-02 demolished the 13th Street entrance ramp to I-480 west and replaced it with a new ramp from Cass Street that opened on December 27, 2002. Adjacent work realigned the 14th Street on-ramp to eastbound. The changes were made as part of the $280 million work for the adjacent convention center.7,8
Further west, where Interstate 480 meets the North Freeway (U.S. 75), a planned three and a half year project kicked off on July 18, 2005 to rebuild the exchange by Gifford Park. The $45 million project, delayed from a planned Fall 2004 start due to a lack of funding, focused on redesigning the interchange. Work realigned I-480 so that it travels through the junction seamlessly on new roadways, removed unused ramps built for the scuttled West Freeway, and replaced the remaining bridges and pavement.9,10
The West Freeway was formally canceled due to neighborhood opposition in 1973.12 It was proposed as a limited access route parallel to U.S. 6 (Dodge Street) through the Cathedral, Dundee and Memorial Park neighborhoods to Interstate 680. Ramps for the freeway opened in 1971 as local connectors from I-480 west to 30th and Chicago Streets and from Davenport at 31st Streets to I-480. These ramps eventually closed in 1984.9
Throughout the project to rebuild the North Freeway-Interstate 480 interchange, detours were in effect as various ramps were closed or replaced. Work removed seven bridges and built 13. The 30th Street on-ramp to the North Freeway (U.S. 75) also closed permanently due to safety concerns with the left side merge.11
Construction progressed through 2007, when funding issues arose due to revenue shortages for the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Phase two work completed by December 2008 included improvements to I-480 east and U.S. 75 north, with the on-ramps from Dodge and Cuming Streets built last. Work on I-480 west and U.S. 75 south was initially pushed back to 2011 as costs for the project increased to $52 million.12
Thanks to stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), construction on the third and final phase of the US 75 / I-480 Interchange Project commenced in September 2009. The abandoned westbound on-ramp from I-480 to Davenport Street over 30th Street was demolished in November 2009.13, with the remaining work finished in December 2010. As the project neared completion, 2011 construction included incidental work along the ramps with 30th Street and the westbound mainline of I-480 through the interchange.14
Nebraska – 4.15
Iowa – 0.75
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-480 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) 2016 Statewide Traffic Flow Map
IowaDOT Traffic Flow Map of Council Bluffs – 2016 Annual Average Daily Traffic
The Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge, which is Nebraska spelled backwards, carried U.S. 6, U.S. 75 and U.S. 30 Alternate across the Missouri River between Downtown Omaha and Council Bluffs until 1966. The two lane steel truss bridge was replaced by the Glenville Dodge Memorial Bridge and demolished by 1968.
I-480 was finished two years prior to the opening of the Missouri River Bridge along Interstate 80.
Interstate 480 Extension
Disputes in 1999 over the replacement of the Missouri River bridge (U.S. 34) at Plattsmouth led to an extensive proposal made by U.S. Representative Doug Bereuter R-Nebraska for an extension of Interstate 480 south. The new route would take I-480 along the Kennedy Freeway south past Bellevue to a new alignment east across the Missouri River to I-29 near Glenwood, Iowa. The loop would be built in addition to a replacement span for the U.S. 34 toll bridge at Plattsmouth.15
The Iowa Department of Transportation did not support this plan and instead favored rerouting U.S. 34 to the north and redesignating the former alignment into Plattsmouth as a local route. The 1995 costs for the two bridges were $40 million for the new four lane Sarpy bridge and $20 million for the replacement of the Plattsmouth toll bridge. City of Bellevue officials believed that the Bereuter plan involving I-480 would increase costs of the project by $10 million.16
State and federal lawmakers agreed on a single plan to build the two bridges in Sarpy and Cass Counties at a meeting at Plattsmouth City Hall held on May 13, 2000. The new four lane span in southern Sarpy County would become part of a new alignment for U.S. 34, and the replacement for the toll bridge at Plattsmouth would be part of U.S. 34 Business. Bereuter would support the realignment plan if the Cass County bridge was designated as a U.S. 34 business route. The realignment of U.S. 34 was sought by Iowa officials due to funding requirements.17
Construction on the $61 million Missouri River bridge for U.S. 34 broke ground in September 2010. Coupled with the approaches, the new alignment cost $115 million, with the federal government paying for 80 percent of the cost. The 3,276 foot long bridge was dedicated on October 22, 2014. It connects with a nearly 7 mile long stretch of divided highway slated for future economic development.18
The Plattsmouth toll bridge was not replaced and instead was purchased by the city of Plattsmouth from the Plattsmouth Bridge Company in 2007 for $1. The 1929 opened, 402 foot long cantilevered truss bridge was refurbished in 2008.18 It is not designated as U.S. 34 Business and instead carries County Road L35 in Iowa and no designation in Nebraska.
East End – Council Bluffs, Iowa
The freeway spur to Broadway (old U.S. 6) concludes with a half diamond interchange connecting eastbound with 2nd Avenue at 36th Street and to westbound from Avenue A west. This ramp system was removed during the 2020-23 I-29/I-480 Interchange Project. Broadway extends east along a commercial boulevard to Kanesville Boulevard by Downtown Council Bluffs. Photo by Steve Hanudel (05/15/06).
North West at
East End Throwback
South End – Omaha, Nebraska
South End Throwback
- Iowa Completion Status of Interstate System as of January 1, 1982. Iowa Department of Transportation.
- Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge, Johnweeks.com.
- 50 Years of Interstate – Nebraska and the Nation.
- “Coming in 2002: New 13th Street ramp to I-480.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 9, 2001.
- “Major Highway Interchange Nears Completion Interstate Engineer Hopes for No Repeat Of Wet ’93 Summer.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), January 2, 1994.
- “Kennedy – Interstate 80 – 480 Interchange Work.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), June 29, 1994.
- “13th Street ramp to I-480 opening The street, north of Capitol Avenue to the ramp, should open by midday Friday.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 25, 2002.
- “OMAHA TIME CAPSULE.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), November 23, 2011.
- “Freeway rebuilding will mean slow going.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 13, 2003.
- “Work slated for downtown freeway – Rebuilding I-480/U.S. 75 (North Freeway) interchange.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), February 14, 2005.
- “Freeway junction work to begin – Ramp closures – Rebuilding I-480/U.S. 75 (North Freeway) interchange.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), July 16, 2005.
- “Interstate plans hit 2-year snag – Work on the I-480 interchange is delayed until 2011; a lack of federal funds also affects Lincoln and Grand Island projects.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 5, 2008.
- “Celebrate demise of ‘bridge to nowhere’.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), December 5, 2008.
- US 75 / I-480 – Interchange Project
http://www.nebraskatransportation.org/projects/480-75/index.htm, NDOR Project Web Site, Updated January 2011.
- “Bereuter Proposes 2 Missouri Bridges.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), September 20, 1999.
- “Plans for Bridges Keep Falling Dow.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), February 20, 2000.
- “Agreement Reached On Bridges Nebraska and Iowa can now go after funding for spans across the Missouri River in Cass and Sarpy Counties.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), May 17, 2000.
- “New bridge gives Nebraska drivers another link to I-29.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), October 21, 2014.
- “Changes to Council Bluffs Interstate interchange may be around the bend.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), March 15, 2016.
http://www.northernplainshighways.org/ nebraska/ne31-60.html#Old NE-38-2
Page updated July 1, 2022.