Interstate 480 and former I-580 along the North Freeway (U.S. 75) in central Omaha, Nebraska.
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