Interstate 80 in Nebraska

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Interstate 80

I-80 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NDOT
Length455.32 mi[2] (732.77 km)
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-80 at Wyoming state line
Major intersections
East end I-80 at Iowa state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesKimball, Cheyenne, Deuel, Keith, Lincoln, Dawson, Buffalo, Hall, Hamilton, York, Seward, Lancaster, Cass, Sarpy, Douglas
Highway system
N-79 US 81

Interstate 80 (I-80) in the US state of Nebraska runs east from the Wyoming state border across the state to Omaha. Construction of the stretch of I-80 spanning the state was completed on October 19, 1974. Nebraska was the first state in the nation to complete its mainline Interstate Highway System.[3]

I-80 has over 80 exits in Nebraska;[4] according to The New York Times there are several notable tourist attractions along Nebraska's section of I-80.[5] It is the only Interstate Highway to travel from one end of Nebraska to another, as the state has no major north–south Interstate route. Except for a three-mile-long (4.8 km) portion of I-76 near the Colorado state line, I-80 is the only primary (two-digit) Interstate Highway in Nebraska.


I-80 in May 1973

Built along the pathway of the Great Platte River Road, I-80 in Nebraska follows the same route as many historic trails, including the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails.[5] Starting in 1957 after federal funding was allotted, Nebraskans began planning their Interstate construction. Led by the Nebraska State Highway Commission, there were hearings across the state to decide where the route was going to be. Aside from the federally mandated "control points" in Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island, the route could vary across the state. Dozens of meetings were held in Grand Island, Kearney, and North Platte, among other locations. The commission addressed issues of whether the highway would be north or south of the Platte River or whether it would follow US Highway 30 (US-30). The South Platte Chamber of Commerce and various cities were very active in these sessions, and debate over where the Interstate would be constructed continued into the 1960s.[1]

I-80 in Omaha looking west at its interchange with I-680

After the first contract for building the Interstate was awarded in 1957, a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) section near Gretna was the first section to be completed that year.[6] The first long segment to be opened was a 52-mile (84 km) section between Dodge Street in Omaha and the West Lincoln interchange in Lincoln on August 11, 1961.[7][8] During a "Golden Link" ceremony, the last section of I-80 in Nebraska was completed when a brass connector was inserted in the roadway near Sidney on October 20, 1974.[3][9] This was designed to emulate the golden spike ceremonially used to complete the first transcontinental railroad in 1869.[10]

The total length of the Nebraska section is 455.32 miles (732.77 km) long and was completed at a cost of $435 million (equivalent to $2.02 billion in 2022[11]).[3]


The beginning of the I-80 construction in Nebraska in 1957 led the Nebraska Legislature to split the Department of Roads and Irrigation to create three separate agencies in the state, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Water Resources, and the Department of Roads, which was the first Nebraska agency solely responsible for highway planning, construction, and maintenance in Nebraska history.[12]

Interstate construction led the state to focus on other highways in Nebraska, as well. Surfaced shoulders, new safety sections beyond shoulders, and other developments across the state were attributed to the influence of the Interstate.[13] The 1965 state legislature also authorized a study of the needs of every public road in Nebraska, including state highways, county roads, and city streets.[14]

Speed limits

1955 map showing the future routes of Interstates in Lincoln, including I-80 and its child route, I-180

The following are speed limits that have existed on I-80 in Nebraska since it was opened in 1957.[15]

Rural speed limits on I-80
Year Speed limit (mph) Speed limit (km/h) Truck speed limit (mph) Truck limit (km/h)
1960 70 110
1964 75 121 65 105
1974[a] 55 89
1987 65 105
1995 75 121

Route description

Designated sections

The entirety of the Interstate Highway System was named the "Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways" in 1990, and the first signage in Nebraska was posted in 1993.[16] Several sections of I-80 in Nebraska have special designations. The I-80 intersection with US-34 has been designated a "Purple Heart Memorial Highway", and South 108th Street bridge over I-80 in Omaha has been designated the "Purple Heart Bridge", both in honor of all recipients of the Purple Heart.[17] A section of I-80 in Nebraska is also designated as a Blue Star Memorial Highway.


In Nebraska, I-80 has 82 interchanges, 442 bridges on or over the roadway, 25 rest areas spaced 35–50 miles (56–80 km) apart for convenience, and one scenic overlook. The I-80 right-of-ways in Nebraska feature 28 types of grasses and forbs, 31 types of shrubs, 12 varieties of coniferous trees, and 39 types of deciduous trees are planted on the median of I-80 in Nebraska. There are also 570 informational and directional signs along the way.[18] Milemarkers with the Interstate shield are posted every 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from mile 103 to mile 312 and every 0.2 miles (0.32 km) from mile 312 easterly. Most of the route is straight plains, and a stretch between Lincoln and Grand Island is almost entirely straight with very few curves whatsoever.

Exit list

KimballBushnell Precinct0.000.00
I-80 west – Cheyenne
Continuation into Wyoming

L-53B north (State Line Road) to US 30 – Pine Bluffs
8.4613.628 L-53C – Bushnell
Antelope Precinct20.7133.3320
N-71 south – Kimball
Western end of N-71 overlap
N-71 north – Gering, Scottsbluff
Eastern end of N-71 overlap
Dix29.7647.8929 L-53A – Dix
CheyennePotter38.9662.7038 L-17B – Potter
Potter Precinct48.8278.5748 L-17C
51.3182.58Sidney Rest Area (eastbound); location of the Golden Link[20]
Sidney55.3789.1155 N-19 (West Entrance) – SidneyN-19 north is former I-80 Bus. east
L-17J to US 385 – Sidney, Bridgeport
Former I-80 Bus. west
Sunol69.63112.0669 L-17E – Sunol
Lodgepole76.61123.2976 L-17F – Lodgepole
L-25A to US 385 – Chappell
Swan Precinct95.02152.9295 N-27 – Julesburg, Oshkosh
Big Springs Precinct101.19162.85101 US 138 – Big Springs, Julesburg
I-76 south – Denver
Former I-80S; I-76 exit 3
Big Springs107.36172.78107 L-25B – Big Springs
KeithBrule117.25188.70117 L-51A – Brule
Ogallala126.69203.89126 US 26 / N-61 – Ogallala, GrantEastern terminus of US 26
Roscoe133.97215.60133 L-51B – Roscoe
Paxton145.65234.40145 L-51C – Paxton
LincolnSutherland158.01254.29158 N-25 – Sutherland, Wallace
Hershey164.51264.75164 L-56C – Hershey
North Platte177.16285.11177 US 83 – North Platte, McCook
L-56G to US 30 – North Platte
Maxwell190.42306.45190 S-56A – Maxwell
Brady198.97320.21199 L-56D – Brady
DawsonGothenburg211.77340.81211 N-47 – Gothenburg
Cozad222.46358.01222 N-21 – Cozad
Lexington Precinct231.10371.92231 L-24A – Darr
Lexington237.19381.72237 US 283 – Arapahoe, Lexington, Elwood
Overton248.53399.97248 L-24B – Overton
BuffaloElm Creek257.01413.62257 US 183 – Holdrege, Elm Creek
Odessa263.66424.32263 L-10B – Odessa
Kearney272.60438.71272 N-44 – Kearney
N-10 north (East Entrance) – Kearney, Archway Monument
Western end of N-10 overlap
Precinct 29279.89450.44279
N-10 south – Minden
Eastern end of N-10 overlap
Gibbon285.63459.68285 L-10C – Gibbon
Shelton291.36468.90291 L-10D – Shelton, Kenesaw
HallWood River300.10482.96300

N-11 north / S-40D south – Wood River
Alda Township305.66491.91305 L-40C – Alda
Grand Island312.07502.23312 US 34 / US 281 (Tom Osborne Expressway) – Hastings, Grand Island
314.11505.51314Locust Street – Grand Island
HamiltonPrecinct 5Precinct 2 line318.14512.00318 N-2 – Phillips, Grand Island
Giltner324.14521.65324 S-41B – Giltner
Aurora332.15534.54332 N-14 – Aurora
Hampton338.12544.15338 L-41D – Hampton
YorkHenderson342.11550.57342 S-93A – Henderson
Baker Precinct348.09560.20348 L-93E – Bradshaw
York353.09568.24353 US 81 – Geneva, York
Beaver Precinct360.11579.54360 L-93B – Waco
SewardPrecinct L366.13589.23366 L-80F – Utica
Beaver Crossing369.12594.04369 L-80E – Beaver Crossing
Goehner373.09600.43373 L-80G – Goehner
Precinct J379.08610.07379 N-15 – Seward, Fairbury
Milford382.08614.90382 L-80H – Milford
Precinct I388.11624.60388 N-103 – Crete
L-55K (NW 48th Street) to US 6 – Lincoln
396.36637.88396 US 6 (O Street) – LincolnClosed; was eastbound exit and westbound left entrance only[21]
US 77 south – Lincoln, Beatrice
Western end of US 77 overlap
399.01642.14399NW 12th Street / Cornhusker Highway / Adams Street – Lincoln Airport
I-180 south / US 34 / 9th Street – Downtown
Eastbound exits signed as 401A (south/east) and 401B (west)
403.48649.3440327th Street
North Bluff Precinct405.75652.99405

US 77 north / L-55X south (56th Street) – Lincoln, Fremont, Wahoo
Eastern end of US 77 overlap; L-55X is former US 77 south
Waverly409.74659.41409 US 6 – East Lincoln, Waverly
CassAshland420.91677.39420 N-63 – Ashland, Greenwood
426.06685.68426 N-66 – South Bend, Louisville, AshlandMahoney State Park
Platte River427.26687.61Bridge
SarpyMelia–Forest City Precinct432.94696.75432
N-31 to US 6 – Gretna, Ashland
Richland VIII Precinct439.19706.81439 N-370 – Bellevue, Papillion, GretnaWerner Park (stadium), Offutt Air Force Base
Chalco440.63709.13440 N-50 (144th Street) – Springfield, West Omaha
442.89712.76442Giles Road / Harrison Street
DouglasOmaha444.56715.45445Q StreetWestbound exit only; access from C/D lanes originating at West Center Rd. exit
445.05716.24 US 275 / N-92 (L Street)Cloverleaf interchange accessible to and from C/D lanes
445.34716.71I StreetWestbound exit and eastbound entrance accessible to and from C/D lanes
I-680 north
446.63718.78445West Center RoadNo eastbound exit; C/D lanes provide access to I-L-Q St. exits
448.29721.4544884th Street
449.30723.0844972nd Street
450.31724.7045060th Street
451.83727.1545142nd Street
I-480 / US 75 north (Gerald R. Ford Expressway) – Downtown, Eppley Airfield

US 75 south (Kennedy Freeway) – Bellevue
Exits to southbound US 75 also include direct exit ramp onto F Street
453.04729.1045324th StreetEastbound exit and westbound entrance
454.14730.8745413th Street – Gardens, ZooFormer US 73 / US 75
Missouri River455.31732.75Interstate 80 Bridge; Nebraska–Iowa state line

I-80 east – Council Bluffs, Des Moines
Continuation into Iowa
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Auxiliary routes

I-80 has three auxiliary routes in Nebraska. One is a loop around the city of Omaha, one is a loop through the city of Omaha, and the other is a spur into Lincoln.

  • I-180 is a spur into downtown Lincoln, cosigned with US-34 for its entire length.
  • I-480 is a loop route in Omaha extending from I-29 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, west toward I-80. It serves as the inner of two loops in Omaha. It is cosigned with US-75 for approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) and with US-6 for less than one mile (1.6 km) as it crosses the Missouri River into Iowa.
  • I-680 is a loop around the northwest of Omaha. It serves as the outer of the two Omaha loops. The section from I-80 in Omaha to I-29 in Crescent, Iowa, was originally designated as I-280, but, because it extended into Iowa and because it conflicted with I-280 in the Quad Cities area of Iowa, the route was renumbered I-680.

== See also ==* History of Nebraska


  1. ^ National speed limit, effective March 3, 1974



  1. ^ a b Koster, George E. (1997). A Story of Highway Development in Nebraska (PDF) (Revised ed.). Lincoln: Nebraska Department of Roads. p. 64. OCLC 38025727. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways". FHWA Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. December 31, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Staff. "Interstate Construction in Nebraska". Nebraska Department of Roads. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  4. ^ Geelhart, Chris (July 11, 2006). "Highways 61-100". Nebraska Highways Page. Self-published. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Winckler, Suzanne (July 22, 1990). "I-80's Exits to History in Nebraska". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  6. ^ Koster (1997), p. 66.
  7. ^ Person, Betty (August 12, 1961). "Interstate Traffic Hits Lincoln, Omaha Artery". The Lincoln Star. p. A1. Retrieved October 8, 2021 – via
  8. ^ Nebraska Interstate 80 Lincoln–Omaha (PDF). Nebraska Department of Roads. August 11, 1961. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  9. ^ "Exon Hails Completion of I-80 As 1,500 Attend Ceremonies". The Lincoln Journal and Star. October 20, 1974. p. B1. Retrieved October 8, 2021 – via
  10. ^ Koster (1997), p. 87.
  11. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved December 19, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  12. ^ Koster (1997), p. 67.
  13. ^ Koster (1997), p. 73.
  14. ^ Koster (1997), p. 75.
  15. ^ Koster (1997), p. 94.
  16. ^ Koster (1997), p. 100.
  17. ^ Staff. "Purple Heart Trail". Nebraska Department of Roads. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  18. ^ Staff. Today's I-80 in Nebraska. Nebraska Department of Roads. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  19. ^ "Nebraska Highway Reference Log Book" (PDF). Nebraska Department of Roads. 2015. pp. 202–223. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  20. ^ WanderingRaleighite. "The Golden Link Historical Marker/Historic Landmark in Sidney, Cheyenne, NE, US". Landmarks Visited Catalog. Self-published. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  21. ^ "Nebraska 511 Traveler Information". Nebraska Department of Roads. Retrieved January 22, 2016.

Works cited

  • Frazier, Ian (1989). Great Plains. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN 9780374217235.
  • Mattes, Merrill J. (1969). The Great Platte River Road. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. OCLC 92978.
  • Nebraska State Historical Society (1989). Historic Places: The National Register for Nebraska. Lincoln: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. OCLC 19216708.

External links

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