Interstate 680 previously circled around the outskirts of Omaha, but suburban expansion pushed the city limits westward all the way to the Elkhorn River. The freeway still provides a bypass for regional traffic along I-80 between Lincoln and Des Moines.
Interstate 680 forms a belt route encircling Omaha from the Prairie Lane neighborhood to the Missouri River at Wyman Heights. The route within Nebraska is mostly suburban, with development lining the freeway frontage from I-80 north to 72nd Street (Exit 9). Suburban expansion in Omaha westward along Highway 64 (Maple Road), the West Dodge Expressway (U.S. 6) and Center Road (former N-38) adds commuter traffic to Interstate 680. I-680 changes cardinal directions from north-south banners between I-80 and 72nd Street to east/west banners for the remainder of the route into Iowa.
Crossing the Mormon Bridge over the Missouri River, I-680 traverses a flood plain east to the full cloverleaf interchange with I-29 and County Road G37 outside the city of Crescent. I-680 combines with Interstate 29 north parallel to the Missouri and Boyer Rivers to Loveland, where I-680 branches eastward across the Loess Hills. A vista point lies along the scenic and lightly traveled freeway taking I-680 back to Interstate 80 near Neola.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved a request from the state of Iowa on October 5, 2019 to renumber I-680 between I-29 at Loveland and I-80 near Minden as Interstate 880. This action includes the removal of I-680 from the nearly ten mile long overlap with Interstate 29. Referencing closures of I-29/680 during Missouri River flooding in 2019, the application read:
This new Interstate route is being established to help avoid routing confusion during flooding events that have occurred recently in this area.
The Mormon Bridge carrying Interstate 680 traffic across the Missouri River. 03/30/16
The Mormon Pioneer Memorial Bridge, a pair of cantilever bridges across the Missouri River at Florence Bend and north Omaha, carries Interstate 680 from Nebraska to Iowa. The original span opened to traffic on December 14, 1952,1 as it connected N-36 with Iowa 988. The 1,603-foot bridge carried two-way traffic across a 26 foot wide deck.2 The westbound bridge opened to traffic as a toll free route in 1975. Tolls remained in place along the eastbound span at a rate of 75 cents per passenger car until April 21, 1979. A ceremony was held that day to deed the bridge to the states of Iowa and Nebraska from the Douglas County Nebraska Bridge Commission.3
Originally, what is now Interstate 680 was planned in two parts: Interstate 280, the loop from I-80 west of Omaha to I-29 north of Council Bluffs, and Interstate 80N, the independent section of I-680 east of I-29 in Iowa. I-680 was initially proposed for the entire route, but AASHO changed it to I-80N on November 10, 1958.4 The I-280 designation was dropped by 1965 once it was realized that Iowa would have had two separate Interstates numbered 280: one here and the other at the Quad Cities (Moline/Bettendorf).
The concurrent section with I-29 was completed as Interstate 29 opened from 16th Street (Exit 56) north at Council Bluffs to U.S. 30 (Exit 75).5 A short stretch of I-680 opened from the temporary end of I-80 north to U.S. 6 (West Dodge Road) within Omaha in 1961.6 Interstate 80N opened from I-29 near Loveland to I-80 in conjunction with I-80 east to U.S. 59 on December 13, 1966.5
As approved by AASHTO on November 10, 1973, Interstate 680 was extended north along I-29 and then east along former I-80N. This extended I-680 another 26 miles. The remainder of the route was completed on August 14, 1974 after a dedication ceremony preceded the opening of I-680 from Mormon Bridge Road (Exit 12) east to the Mormon Bridge.7
A ten-year, $325 million project to improve Interstate 80 across Omaha included a redesign of the three-wye interchange with I-680 in Omaha. The upgrade included adding collector distributor roadways to serve local traffic on both freeways for West Center Road (Exit 1) to the north and U.S. 275 (Exit 445) to the southwest. The project started in Spring 1994 as work neared completion on the interchange redesign between I-80, I-480 and U.S. 75 (Kennedy Freeway) to the east.8,9 Work at the exchange ran through December 199710,11 while construction to expand I-680 to six lanes from Pacific Street (Exit 2) to U.S. 6 (Exit 3) followed between 1998 and December 13, 1999, when the Pacific Street on-ramp to I-680 north opened.12
The full cloverleaf interchange (Exit 3) joining Interstate 680 with West Dodge Road (U.S. 6) was rebuilt during a five-year, $24 million project starting in July 2000. Exit 3 was redesigned to incorporate new directional ramps replacing loop ramps from I-680 north to U.S. 6 west and from U.S. 6 east to I-680 north. This work eventually ran in tandem with the ancillary project to build the West Dodge elevated expressway. The new ramp from I-680 to West Dodge Road opened to traffic on December 10, 2003.13 All work was completed at the West Dodge interchange by July 1, 2005.14
Two year widening of Interstate 680 was completed in November 2005 between West Maple Road (N-64) and Fort Street (Exit 5). Work expanded the freeway to six overall lanes.15