The Western Interstate 76 is a diagonal route leading from transcontinental Interstate 80 southwest into Denver. Although it shares a common number with the Eastern Interstate 76, the two routes do not connect, and there is a huge gap between Nebraska and Ohio. Interstate 76 was formerly Interstate 80S, and the designation was changed when most suffixed routes were eliminated.
Passing through the eastern plains of Colorado, Interstate 76 serves the communities of Fort Morgan, Sterling, and Julesburg along the banks of the South Platte River. Although it is very wide river, the South Platte is not very deep. It is not commercially navigable as a result, which is typical of many western rivers. However, development has sprung up along this corridor, partially due to the presence of Interstate 76. In fact, the South Platte River valley even has its own U.S. route, U.S. 138, between Sterling and Big Spring, Nebraska.
Interstate 76 in Colorado also boasts one of the longest business routes in the country, Business Loop I-76 along U.S. 6 from Fort Morgan northeast to Sterling.
The following chart shows the dates on which each section of Interstate 76 was opened, from the western terminus in Denver to the Nebraska State Line.
From Interstate 70 and Colorado 121 ( Wadsworth Boulevard ) east to Colorado 95 ( Sheridan Boulevard )
December 3, 1985
From Colorado 95 ( Sheridan Boulevard ) to U.S. 287 ( Federal Boulevard )
November 5, 1987
From U.S. 287 ( Federal Boulevard ) to Pecos Street
November 1, 1989
From Pecos Street east to Interstate 25/U.S. 87
September 15, 1993
From Interstate 25/U.S. 87 east to U.S. 85 ( Greeley Highway )
October 11, 1968
From U.S. 85 ( Greeley Highway ) to Barr Lake
From Barr Lake to Hudson
From Hudson to Wiggins
Conversion of U.S. 6 on segment near Wiggins into Interstate standards
From Wiggins to Fort Morgan
From Fort Morgan to Sterling
From Sterling northeast to Crook
From Crook east to Sedgwick
From Sedgwick east to Julesburg
October 24, 1970
From Julesburg east to Nebraska State Line
Construction on what was originally called Interstate 80S began in 1958. Interstate 76 came into existence on January 1, 1976, when Interstate 80S was renumbered as Interstate 76. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 488 signs were replaced as a result of this numbering change. For more information on the history of Interstate 76, visit Colorado Department of Transportation 50th Anniversary of the Interstate Highway System.