Generally following the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay, Interstate 880 is the Nimitz Freeway between San Jose and Oakland. A heavily developed urban and suburban freeway, I-880 originates at the exchange with Interstate 280 (Junipero Sierra Freeway) and State Route 17 located in San Jose between the Fruitdale and Burbank communities. Heading northward, the Nimitz Freeway passes through an array of cities including Milipitas, Fremont and Hayward. Extending north between Alameda and Downtown Oakland, I-880 concludes at the Maze Interchange with I-80 and I-580 at the eastern approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Interstate 880 is generally six to eight lanes wide with HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes accompanying the Nimitz Freeway between San Jose and Oakland. Road work underway from September 2017 to October 2020 converted the HOV lanes along I-880 northward from Milipitas to Oakland into tolled Express Lanes. Funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the $132.5 million project added High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes northbound between Dixon Landing Road and Lewelling Boulevard / Exit 31 A and southbound from Hegenberger Road / Exit 36 to Dixon Landing Road (Exit 10).1
Interstate 880 was originally assigned to the section of I-80 bypassing Sacramento to the north between 1963 and 1980. During that time frame, I-80 was assigned to U.S. 50 and Business Loop I-80 (Elvas Freeway) through the capital city. Cancellation of a project to construct an Interstate standard section of freeway northeast of the American River resulted in the relocation of Interstate 80 over what was I-880. This change was approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on November 14, 1980.
Federal Highway Administration action in 1983, followed by passage of State Assembly Bill 2741 in 1984, reassigned the Nimitz Freeway (State Route 17) from San Jose north to Oakland as the new Interstate 880. AASHTO approved the establishment of I-880 on June 20, 1983, and the route was completely signed by 1985. SR 17 remains designated south of I-280 and I-880 to Santa Cruz.
The Cypress Structure along the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland was severely damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Several sections of the double-decked section collapsed during the tragedy, resulting in the deaths of 42 people. The multi level structure was subsequently demolished. Ensuing work reconstructed I-880, partially on a new alignment which opened in mid-1997. The link with I-80/580 at the Maze Interchange was opened by 1999. Community input was taken to ensure that the new Cypress Freeway would be less intrusive to Oakland neighborhoods. Additionally, the former two tier section of the Nimitz Freeway was reconstructed into a viaduct with side by side roadways.
Between 1991 and 2010, a wide variety of improvements took place throughout the Nimitz Freeway. Some of the improvements were the result of the disastrous Loma Prieta Earthquake, while others were designed to improve capacity and safety implicit in an Interstate highway. Federal, state, and local funds paid for these upgrades. Both Santa Clara and Alameda Counties passed transportation sales tax measures, with some proceeds earmarked toward I-880.