Interstate 880 California
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.
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-880 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: Caltrans 2017 Traffic Volumes : Route 505-980
Interstate 980 was completed west to I-880 in 1985. I-880 north from I-980 was closed four years later due to the Loma Prieta earthquake. Interstate 980 took over as the through route to I-580 until the completion of the Cypress Freeway.
Projects undertaken were:
- 2010 – Build new exit lanes from Interstate 280 to I-880
- 2006 – Rebuild the Coleman Avenue interchange
- 1994 – Widen Interstate 880 over Caltrain tracks
- 1998 – Rebuild the interchange with U.S. 101
- 2003 – Widen I-880 to six lanes between U.S. 101 and Montague Expressway (County Route G-4)
- 1995 – Complete Tasman Drive overpass
- 2005 – Open new ramps at the interchange with SR 237
- 1992 – Widen I-880 from SR 237 (Exit 8C) to Dixon Landing Road (Exit 10)
- 2004 – Rebuild Dixon Landing Road over crossing
- 2008 – Rebuild the interchange with SR 262 (Mission Boulevard)
- 2008 – Construct carpool lanes from SR 237 to SR 262
- 1998 – Widen I-880 to eight lanes from Union City to Fremont and rebuild 12 interchanges along the stretch
- 2009 – Rebuild the interchange with SR 92
- 2002 – Repave I-880 from the Santa Clara-Alameda County Line north to High Street Interchange in Oakland
Much of the interchange improvements addressed weaving traffic patterns associated with cloverleaf ramps, replacing them with more modern designs. Nearly $2.5 billion in total funds were allocated on these projects.2
Expansion of Interstate 880 between First Street and the Montague Expressway in San Jose widened the freeway from four to six lanes. Completed on On November 13, 2003, work began on the $74 million project in 2001. The new lanes were added in the median, replacing oleander bushes and a cable barrier. Engineers predicted at the time that the average travel speed along the 2.5 mile stretch of highway would increase from 9 to 51 MPH. The commute time was predicted to decrease by 18 minutes along the same stretch of highway.3
A $64 million project extended the Interstate 880 HOV lanes 4.6 miles south from SR 237 in Milipitas to U.S. 101 in San Jose. Opened to traffic on June 22, 2013, the HOV lanes completed the system from Alameda and northern Santa Clara Counties. Work also expanded I-880 to eight lanes along the stretch and improved the ramps at the Brokaw Road Interchange.4
There are currently no plans to extend Interstate 880 further south over State Route 17. Only the section of SR 17 from I-280 to SR 85 is Interstate-standard. The rest of the route to Santa Cruz is substandard, with cross traffic, limited sight distance and narrow medians.
North End – Oakland, California
West East at
I-80 leaves the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge a half mile ahead of Exit 8 A for I-880 (Cypress Freeway) south. The connection to I-880 was reconstructed in the early 1990s as a result of damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. The freeway follows a looping course around neighborhoods that it previously cut through. 03/27/16
Throwback – East at
South End – San Jose, California
Exit 5 B departs I-280 southbound for I-880 north to Fremont and Oakland and SR 17 south to Los Gatos and Santa Cruz.
- I-880 Express Lanes, Fall 2018 fact sheet. Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
- “Nimitz Construction reaches final stretch.” Contra Costa Times (CA), May 8, 2005.
- “Two new lanes to unplug bottleneck near 101.” San Jose Mercury News (CA), October 11, 2003.
- “Caltrans Opens Interstate 880 Carpool Lanes.” California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), news release. June 20, 2013.
Page updated July 12, 2022.