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Interstate 980 California

Traveling southwest through the four-level interchange linking SR 24, I-580 (MacArthur Freeway) and I-980 (Grove Shafter Freeway) in Oakland. Photo taken 07/18/09.


Interstate 980 is a short freeway constructed during the 1980s that connects Interstate 880 with California 24 through downtown Oakland. Interstate 980 serves as part of the principal path for the East Bay communities of Walnut Creek and Concord to reach downtown Oakland and the Oakland International Airport. Between 1989 and 1999, Interstate 980 also served as a detour route for the collapsed Interstate 880 freeway between Interstate 980 and Interstate 80. When Interstate 880 reopened, Interstate 980 returned to its original function of providing downtown access.

With no reassurance markers, Interstate 980 is poorly signed on the mainline, but it is well signed from most approaches. Some reassurance markers were erected along the freeway for California 24. There is no connection from westbound Interstate 980 to I-880 north or from southbound Interstate 880 to I-980 east.


A 0.80 mile section of Interstate 980 was initially approved as an addition to the California Interstate Highway System mileage in 1976. The route was designated by the Federal Highway Administration in 1983 and added to the California State Highway System in 1984. A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the completion of Interstate 980 on March 6, 1985.1 The importance of I-980 became paramount when it became the replacement for Interstate 880 after portions of the double-decked Nimitz Freeway, between I-980 and I-80, collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Since the reconstruction of Interstate 880 and the new Cypress Street Viaduct/Freeway, Interstate 980 resumed its original role as a connection between I-880 and California 24 east to the Caldecott Tunnel. Interstate 980 was added to the Interstate Highway System to secure federal funding. Otherwise it was slated to become part of an extended California 24 freeway.

There are no plans to extend the Interstate 980 designation east or west. With the addition of the fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel, California 24 is up to Interstate Standards east to Orinda and Walnut Creek. The fourth bore opened to traffic on November 16, 2013, bringing the freeway up to eight overall lanes across the Berkeley Hills.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 880 - Oakland, California
Perspective from Interstate 980 west
Back to back off-ramps connect Interstate 980 west with parallel Brush Street for the numbered street grid at Downtown Oakland. The freeway drops below grade on the approach to Interstate 880 south. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Interstate 980 makes a sweeping curve to the south from 11th Street to merge with Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) south beyond the Jackson Street off-ramp. Photo taken 08/24/03.
The three lane flyover carrying Interstate 980 west onto I-880 south separates with two lanes joining the Nimitz Freeway south toward San Jose and a lengthy off-ramp to 5th Street ahead of Jackson Street and Alameda. Photo taken 08/24/03.
Perspective from Interstate 880 north
This mileage sign along northbound Interstate 880 shows three exits along northbound: Oak Street, Broadway, and Eastbound Interstate 980 into downtown. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Northbound Interstate 880 at the Broadway exit in Oakland. The next exit is for eastbound Interstate 980 into downtown Oakland. Photo taken 11/26/04.
This mileage sign is located one-half mile south of the Interstate 980 junction along northbound Interstate 880 in Oakland. Photo taken 11/26/04.
The two right lanes along northbound Interstate 880 transition onto eastbound Interstate 980; the right lane is exit only while the number four lane is an optional lane. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Northbound Interstate 880 reaches the transition ramp to eastbound Interstate 980 (to California 24). Note that it is signed as To California 24, which is located a little less than two miles east of this interchange. The flyover ramp in the background of the sign is the connection from westbound Interstate 980 onto southbound Interstate 880. Also note that the through traffic signage points to Interstate 80 as well as Interstate 880. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Perspective from Interstate 880 south
Interstate 980 west defaults onto Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) south at a wye interchange. A lengthy Breezewood style connection can be made to access I-980 east via Union, 7th and Castro Streets otherwise. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 580 and California 24 - Oakland, California
Perspective from Interstate 980 east
The first sign for I-580 stands within the median along Interstate 980 east at the 14th Street overpass by Downtown Oakland. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 travels below grade between Brush and Castro Streets before shifting eastward onto a viaduct over Grand and San Pablo Avenues. There are no additional local off-ramps to the multi level interchange with Interstate 580. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Crossing over Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, the Interstate 980 right of way widens to accommodate a BART line between the east and westbound lanes. The BART line extends northeast along the ensuing SR 24 freeway to Patton Street. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Exit 2 branches away from the I-980 / SR 24 eastbound mainline for Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway) west to the Maze Interchange with I-80 and southeast to San Leandro, Castro Valley and Hayward. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Passing over 30th Street, I-980 / SR 24 east lower to pass below the I-580 mainline and associated flyovers connecting the two freeways. Interstate 580 travels overall northwest toward Richmond and Marin County and southeast toward Dublin and the Central Valley. Photo taken 07/05/04.
California 24 continues with six then eight overall lanes from Interstates 580 and 980 to north Oakland and the Caldecott Tunnel. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Perspective from California 24 west
Westbound California 24 approaching Interstate 580, one mile. There is no mention of Interstate 980 on this approach sign. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Interchange sequence sign posted 0.75 miles ahead of I-580. The succeeding exits are located along Interstate 980 west ahead of Downtown Oakland. Photo taken 08/16/03.
All traffic headed for I-580 west to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and I-580 east to Hayward departs from SR 24 west in unison for respective flyover ramps. SR 24 transitions to I-980 otherwise. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Entering the symmetrical stack interchange with Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway) on SR 24 west. The 27th Street off-ramp from Interstate 980 branches away from the freeway mainline within the exchange. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Perspective from Interstate 580 east
This Interstate 980 sign along I-580 (MacArthur Freeway) east was placed after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. The collapse and closure of the Nimitz Freeway (I-880) south from I-80 and 580 resulted in traffic detouring east along I-580 and south along Interstate 980 to the undamaged section of Interstate 880. Even though Interstate 880 reopened in 1999, the sign remained as a reminder that Interstate 980 is a good alternative route. Photo taken 08/16/03.
A high flyover ramp shuttles commuters from I-580 (MacArthur Freeway) east to California 24 east. California 24 constitutes a busy commuter freeway east from Oakland and Berkeley to the East Bay cities of Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Concord. California 24 west transitions into I-980 west. Photo taken 08/16/03.
A two-lane flyover follows for Interstate 980 west to Downtown Oakland and I-880 (Nimitz Freeway) near Alameda. Photo taken 08/16/03.
Perspective from Interstate 580 west
Upon reaching the Harrison Street and MacArthur Drive off-ramp, the first signs appear for Interstate 980 and California 24, with the right lane dropping at the upcoming interchange. The I-580 mainline advances with three lanes to the Maze Interchange, where it converges with Interstates 880 north and 80 near the eastern approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Interstate 980 links I-580 with Downtown Oakland. The connection with I-880 is limited to the Nimitz Freeway southbound. Photo taken 11/26/04.
Westbound Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway) reaches Exit 19D for I-980 west to I-880 south to Oakland International Airport (OAK). The succeeding off-ramp in this four-level interchange connects I-580 west with SR 24 east to Berkeley and Contra Costa County. Photo taken 11/26/04.


  1. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Page Updated June 3, 2006.

State California
Mileage 2.03
Cities Oakland
Junctions I-880, I-580
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-980 California Annual Average Daily Traffic
Location AADT
I-880 to 14th St 82,000
14th St to 18th St 97,000
18th St to I-580 121,000
Source: Caltrans, Traffic Operations Program - Traffic and Vehicle Data Systems [2002]
Interstate 980 under construction as an extension of California 24 in 1971.