Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Interstate 80 is the second-longest interstate highway in the United States. It goes from San Francisco, California at United States Highway 101 in the west to Teaneck, New Jersey at Interstate 95 in the east, right outside New York City. The highway roughly traces some historically significant travel corridors, particularly in the western U.S. These include the Oregon Trail in Nebraska and westward, and the Donner Pass in Nevada and California.
Major cities along the route
- San Francisco, California
- Oakland, California
- Sacramento, California
- Reno, Nevada
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Cheyenne, Wyoming
- North Platte, Nebraska
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Quad Cities, Iowa-Illinois (Davenport)
- Joliet, Illinois
- Chicago, Illinois (through the south suburbs)
- Gary, Indiana
- South Bend, Indiana
- Toledo, Ohio
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Youngstown, Ohio
- State College, Pennsylvania
- Paterson, New Jersey
Intersections with other Interstates
- Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California
- Interstate 15 in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Interstate 84 in Echo, Utah
- Interstate 25 in Cheyenne, Wyoming
- Interstate 76 near Big Springs, Nebraska
- Interstate 29 in Council Bluffs, Iowa
- Interstate 35 in Des Moines, Iowa
- Interstate 74 in Bettendorf, Iowa
- Interstate 88 near Moline, Illinois
- Interstate 74 near Moline, Illinois
- Interstate 39 in La Salle, Illinois
- Interstate 55 in Joliet, Illinois
- Interstate 57 in Tinley Park, Illinois
- Interstate 94 in South Holland, Illinois. They stay joined until Portage, Indiana. Also known as the Robert Kingery Expressway in Illinois and the Frank Borman Expressway in Indiana.
- Interstate 90 in Portage, Indiana. They stay joined until Elyria, Ohio.
- Interstate 65 in Gary, Indiana
- Interstate 69 near Fremont, Indiana
- Interstate 75 in Toledo, Ohio
- Interstate 71 in Strongsville, Ohio
- Interstate 77 in Brecksville, Ohio
- Interstate 76 in Niles, Ohio
- Interstate 79 in Pardoe, Pennsylvania
- Interstate 99 in State College, Pennsylvania
- Interstate 81 in St. Johns, Pennsylvania
- Interstate 95 in Teaneck, New Jersey
- San Francisco Bay Area - I-280, I-380, I-580, I-680, I-780, I-880, I-980
- Cheyenne, Wyoming - I-180
- Lincoln, Nebraska - I-180
- Omaha, Nebraska - I-480, I-680
- Spur to Waterloo, Iowa - I-380
- The Quad Cities - I-280
- Spur to Hennepin, Illinois - I-180
- Toledo, Ohio - I-280
- Cleveland, Ohio - I-480
- Youngstown, Ohio - I-680
- Spur to Williamsport, Pennsylvania - I-180
- Spur to Scranton, Pennsylvania - I-380
- Spur to Newark, New Jersey - I-280
The highway reaches a maximum elevation of 8,640 feet (2,633 m) above sea level between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming. Farther west in Wyoming, the interstate passes the Continental Divide twice because two lines of mountains form a closed-off basin.
Among many picturesque sections of I-80 are the crossing of San Francisco Bay over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (toll paid westbound only), the traverse above Donner Pass and Donner Lake (near Lake Tahoe) in California, and its run along the Truckee River both west and east of Reno, Nevada. Interstate 80 crosses the southern end of Great Salt Lake west of Salt Lake City, Utah, providing views of various mountains, although it incorporates a very long stretch of straight roadway that can induce some drivers to fall asleep.
I-80 intersects I-90 near Elyria, Ohio and they share a route all the way to Portage, Indiana, where I-90 splits off but I-80 then runs concurrently with I-94 until the Chicago suburb of South Holland, Illinois. I-80 then runs concurrently with I-294 until Markham, Illinois.
All of I-80 in Indiana is duplexed with another interstate.
Although Interstate 80 does not enter Colorado, it does manage to come within a mile of the border between Nebraska and Colorado at the junction of Interstates 80 and 76.
Although it never enters Michigan, Interstate 80 (with Interstate 90) lies within ten miles (16.1 km) of the Michigan state line between La Porte, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio. Looking north at the intersection of Indiana State Highway 9 and I-80, the "Welcome to Michigan" sign is visible in the distance!
I-80 does not go all the way to New York City via the George Washington Bridge. Its designated end is about four miles (6.4 km) short of New York City in Teaneck, New Jersey. There, it joins and becomes designated as I-95, which does cross the bridge. The tolled section of the New Jersey Turnpike ends at exit 18, which is actually just the toll plaza at the northern terminus. The next exit on I-95 is exit 68, which is consistent with the exit structure on I-80. (The truth is that the exit numbers on this section of I-95 match the mile markers on I-95 had the Somerset Freeway been built. The fact that they are similar to what the exit numbers are on I-80 is just a coincidence.)
Interstate 80 had five branches, the most of any interstate highway. However, because suffixes were not allowed on any Interstate (save for the I-35 freeways in Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St. Paul), all five branches have since been renumbered. There were three branches called I-80N, and two of them were I-80S (both of which were renamed I-76). The most noticeable I-80N went from Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City. It is now signed as the western half of I-84. The other two former I-80N routes were in western Iowa (near Omaha) (I-680) and Cleveland/Youngstown (incorporated by both I-480 and I-680).
Part of Interstate 80 in Nebraska is known as the Blue Star Memorial Highway.
Interstate 480 was a double-decker freeway that parallelled the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Despised by San Franciscans because they felt it had destroyed their city, the freeway was damaged when a major earthquake shook the Bay Area in 1989. It was completely demolished a short time later, and the waterfront area opened to further development.
Interstate 880 was a double-decker freeway in Oakland, California. Like the now-demolished I-480, it was severely damaged in the 1989 earthquake. In the following years, the freeway was rebuilt so that the decks carrying its northbound and southbound lanes were built at the same level (the double-decker freeway no longer exists).
Interstate 880 was also used at one time for the current I-80 freeway around Sacramento, California, while the original I-80 went directly through the city. I-80 now goes onto the original I-880, while the old I-80 is currently the Business I-80/US 50/Secret I-305 freeway in Sacramento.
Interstate 580 is the secret name for the US 395 freeway in Reno, Nevada.
Interstate 580 in Omaha, Nebraska shared a freeway with US 75.
Interstate 180 in Cheyenne, Wyoming is an interstate with traffic lights.
Interstate 280 in New Jersey connects Northern New Jersey with New York city.
Major bridges on I-80
Des Plaines River, Illinois
The I-80 bridge over the Des Plaines River is a cantilever bridge that is six lanes wide -- three lanes traveling eastbound and westbound. It is actually a fairly dangerous section of road, as the bridge is thirty feet (9.1 m) below the surrounding elevation of the highway. A pair of downhill s-curves approach the bridge, and the speed is reduced to 45 mph (72 km/h) from 65 mph (105 km/h). This catches many drivers by surprise, since for at least a hundred miles (161 km) on either side of the bridge, the road is mainly flat and straight.
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