Interstate 980

Interstate 980 is the Grove Shafter Freeway, connecting Interstate 880 in downtown Oakland with Interstate 580 and California 24 just north of downtown; it is a logical extension of California 24 to the southwest but has an Interstate Highway designation due to its funding. This short connecting freeway serves as part of the principal path to connect East Bay communities on the Interstate 680 corridor (such as Walnut Creek and Concord) with downtown Oakland, the Port of Oakland, Alameda, and the Oakland International Airport. The interchange between Interstate 980, California 24, and Interstate 580 was constructed as a symmetrical stack interchange.

Interstate 980 was approved to be added to California's Interstate Highway System mileage in 1976 (a 0.80-mile segment). The Federal Highway Administration designated the route in 1983, and it was legislatively added to the California State Highway System in 1984. The freeway opened to traffic on March 6, 1985.

The tragic Loma Prieta Earthquake struck on October 17, 1989. One of the many structures to fail during the earthquake was the Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) Cypress Structure (a double-decker viaduct), which served as the principal connection from the south to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As a result, traffic had to be detoured onto Interstate 980 to reach the bridge via the MacArthur Maze. This detour existed for a decade, as the replacement section of Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) opened on a new alignment in 1999. Since the reconstruction of Interstate 880 and the new Cypress Street Viaduct/Freeway, Interstate 980 has resumed its original role as a connection between Interstate 880 and California 24 and providing direct access to Oakland' downtown.

Until 2011, Interstate 980 was poorly signed on the mainline yet well signed from most approaches. This changed in 2011 when new reassurance shields for Interstate 980 were added between Interstate 880 and Interstate 580.

Interstate 980 east
The first exit along eastbound Interstate 980/Shafter Freeway occurs immediately after the transition ramp from northbound Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) to eastbound Interstate 980. Here, Interstate 980 meets the off ramp to 11th Street and 14th Street to downtown Oakland at Exit 1A. Photo taken 07/05/04.
The next exit along eastbound is Exit 1B, 17th Street/San Pablo Avenue. Like Exit 1A, this ramp leads to downtown Oakland. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 is a very short freeway, and already it is approaching its eastern terminus. The main lanes of Interstate 980 will transition directly onto California 24 eastbound, while the right lanes will exit onto Interstate 580. To Interstate 80 east, use Interstate 580 west. Photo taken 07/05/04.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 980 is Exit 2A, Interstate 580 and California 24. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Eastbound Interstate 980 approaches Exit 2A, Interstate 580 and California 24. This interchange marks the northeastern terminus of Interstate 980; the freeway continues straight ahead as California 24 to Walnut Creek. Photo taken 07/05/04.

This reassurance shield along eastbound Interstate 980 is for California 24, even though we are technically still on Interstate 980. There are no Interstate 980 reassurance shields located on the mainline along eastbound or westbound. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Eastbound Interstate 980 reaches Exit 2A, Interstate 580 east to Dublin, Tracy, and Stockton, and west to Interstate 80, San Francisco, and Marin County. All three left lanes continue as California 24. Photo taken 07/05/04.
This view of the symmetrical stack interchange and signage on the transition ramp is seen from the mainline. Photo taken 07/05/04.
The Interstate 580/Interstate 980/California 24 symmetrical stack interchange is best seen along eastbound Interstate 980/California 24, which serves as the bottom layer of the stack. Photos taken 07/05/04.
The final exit from Interstate 980 is Exit 2B, Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and 51st Street. This ramp is found at the bottom of the symmetrical stack interchange. Photo taken 07/05/04.
The ramp carrying traffic from eastbound Interstate 580 onto eastbound California 24 flies over the freeway. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 ends at Exit 2B, Martin Luther King, Jr. Way/51st Street. The next exit along what is now California 24 will be Exit 3, Claremont Avenue. Photo taken 07/05/04.
Interstate 980 west
California 24 becomes Interstate 980 after the ramp to Interstate 580 leaves the westbound mainline. There is one reassurance westbound California 24 shield prior to reaching the stack interchange (it is hard to see in this photo). This is technically Interstate 980 - but there are no reassurance shields for the Interstate highway along the mainline. Photo taken 08/05/05.
The view west is dominated by the symmetrical stack interchange between Interstate 580, Interstate 980, and California 24 as seen from westbound Interstate 980. Symmetrical stack interchanges are fairly rare in Northern California. Photo taken 08/05/05.
The first exit on Interstate 980 west is Exit 2A (1E), 27th Street and Grand Avenue. We don't know the official exit number for this exit because it is not listed on the Caltrans Calnexus site, and no signs with the exit number have yet been posted. Each of the exits along Interstate 980 serve downtown Oakland. Photo taken 08/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 980 reaches Exit 2A (1E), Grand Avenue and 27th Street. The lanes were realigned to accommodate a two-lane exit, hence the green overlay on the sign. Interstate 980 remains below grade for its route through downtown, but it is still manages to gain enough elevation at the western terminus to fly over Interstate 880. Photo taken 08/05/05.
The off-ramp for Exit 2A (1E) passes under the transition ramp bringing traffic from Interstate 580 onto Interstate 980 west. For the most part, Interstate 980 travels due south, not west. Photo taken 08/05/05.
Now on the ramp from Interstate 580/MacArthur Freeway (both directions) to Interstate 980/Grove Shafter Freeway west, an exit connects to 27th Street and Grand Avenue in Oakland. The left three lanes will merge onto Interstate 980 to serve downtown Oakland. Photo taken 07/04/06.
Signage for Exit 2A (1E), Grand Avenue and 27th Street and Exit 1D, 18th Street and 14th Street can be seen on the transition ramp from Interstate 580 to Interstate 980 west. The second photo shows the same sign on the transition ramp from Interstate 580 to Interstate 980 west. Photos taken 08/05/05 and 07/04/06.
The next exit along westbound is for Exit 1D, 18th Street and 14th Street, next right. Photo taken 08/05/05.
Use Exit 1C, 12th Street and 11th Street to downtown Oakland, Jack London Square/Marina, the Alameda-Oakland ferry to San Francisco, and to California 260 (California 61) south to the city of Alameda. The next exit is Exit 1D, 18th Street and 14th Street. Photo taken 08/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 980 reaches Exit 1D, 18th Street and 14th Street. The next exit on westbound is Exit 1C, 12th Street and 11th Street to the Oakland Convention Center and Jack London Square/Marina. At Exit 1D (junction 18th Street and 14th Street), the overhead signs begin to advertise Interstate 880 southbound even though there is still another mile left for Interstate 980 westbound! Photo taken 08/05/05.
Westbound Interstate 980 reaches the two-lane off-ramp for Exit 1C, 12th Street and 11th Street. The left three lanes will continue west on Interstate 980, which connects to Exit 1B, Jackson Street and Exit 1A, Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) south. Photo taken 08/05/05.
After Exit 1C, Interstate 980 remains below grade for a while longer. Ahead it passes under 17th Street and 14th Street. Photo taken 08/05/05.
Use the next exit (Jackson Street) to Oakland' waterfront and Warehouse District. Photo taken 07/04/06.
Now leaving the immediate downtown area in Oakland, Interstate 980 ascends above grade as it approaches its final two exits. Photo taken 08/05/05.
The next exit is Exit 1B, Jackson Street (right lane exit only). This exit ramp is very long, and it finally culminates at Jackson Street, which is nearly a quarter mile south of the split between 880 and 980. Photo taken 07/04/06.
Westbound Interstate 980 meets Jackson Street at Exit 1B. Jackson Street may be used to reach California 260 (signed as California 61)/Webster-Posey Tubes to Alameda by backtracking just a few blocks via 7th Street northeast and Webster Street southwest. Interstate 980 ends here, as the left lanes follow Exit 1A onto southbound Interstate 880, while the right lane exits onto Exit 1B to Jackson Street. Photo taken 07/04/06.
Passing by the gore point for Exit 1B, the left two lanes of Interstate 980 default onto Exit 1A, Interstate 880 south. Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) continues south from here along the route of former California 17 to Oakland International Airport, then continues south along the east shore of the bay toward San Jose. Photo taken 07/04/06.
Interstate 980 scenes
What' curious about this sign, located in downtown Oakland, is that it says Interstate 980 EAST San Francisco. This is because one must use Interstate 980 east to Interstate 580 west to Interstate 80 west to reach San Francisco. Using Interstate 980 west will take travelers to southbound Interstate 880, but they would have to U-turn and backtrack on Interstate 880 north to Interstate 80 west. Photo taken by Pete Sison (05/25/03).
In downtown Oakland, the few freeway entrance assemblies for eastbound Interstate 980 feature both Interstate 980 and California 24 shields. This particular assembly is located along eastbound Castro Street at 12th Street. Castro Street acts as a frontage road for the south side of the freeway. Photos taken 12/30/01.

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Page Updated April 22, 2012.

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