Interstate 880

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Interstate 880 is the Nimitz Freeway between San Jose and Oakland. The heavily traveled commuter freeway generally follows the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Originating at the multi-level interchange with Interstate 280 and California 17 in San Jose, the freeway culminates its northerly course at the Maze interchange, where Interstates 80 and 580 combine in Oakland. Damaged in the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, its connection to Interstate 80 was restored by 1999.

Improvements made to Interstate 880 through San Jose included widening the freeway from four to six lanes. A $74 million project ran from 2001 to November 13, 2003, expanding the highway between First Street and the Montague Expressway in the city. Engineers at the time predicted an increase of the average travel speed along the 2.5 mile stretch from 9 to 51 miles per hour. Additionally the commute time was forecast to decrease by 18 minutes along the same stretch of highway. The new lanes were constructed within the median in place of oleander bushes and steel cable barrier.1

Interstate 880 California Guides

I-880 in the San Francisco Bay area is the second iteration of the route used in California. The previous I-880 was established along the north Sacramento bypass until 1980.

Much of Interstate 880 along the Nimitz Freeway was built in the 1950s as part of California 17, a long freeway corridor originating in Santa Cruz and extending north to San Jose and Oakland, then turning northwest to San Rafael via the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The section of Interstate 880 over the Cypress Viaduct was briefly known as U.S. 50 Business until the U.S. 50 route was retracted from the Bay Area to Sacramento in 1963.

California 17 north from San Jose was added into the Interstate Highway system as a result of Federal Highway Administration action in 1983 and passage of State Assembly Bill 2741 in 1984. Interstate 880 was completely signed by January 1, 1986. Only the section of California 17 south from I-280 in San Jose to Santa Cruz retains its designation; the rest of the route was incorporated into portions of I-880, I-80 and I-580.

The double-deck section of Interstate 880 along the Nimitz Freeway was the site of a tragic collapse of the Cypress Structure on October 17, 1989. The Loma Prieta earthquake resulted in the deaths of 42 motorists. While I-880 was closed, Interstate 980 became the through route, connecting the Nimitz Freeway with Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway), I-80 at the east end of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and California 24 east. A large segment of I-880 reopened in Oakland on a completely new alignment in July 1997. Capable to withstand higher magnitude earthquakes, the Nimitz Freeway was reconstructed on a new elevated alignment further west of the former double-deck section. I-880 fully reopened on this section by 1999. Community input was taken to ensure that the new roadway would be less intrusive to Oakland neighborhoods and the original alignment of the Cypress Structure was repurposed as Mandela Parkway.

Other sections of Interstate 880 were widened and reconstructed, including the narrow segments in Santa Clara County. This included upgrading the interchange between I-880 and California 237, which was largely complete as of early 2008. Additionally ACTA and ACTIA Projects in Alameda County included several along the I-880 corridor, such as improvements to the interchanges with Broadway/Jackson Street in Oakland, at California 92 in Hayward, with Washington Avenue and at California 262.

Overall significant improvements were made to the entire I-880 corridor between 1991 and 2010. The realignment of the Nimitz Freeway due to the disastrous Loma Prieta Earthquake not withstanding, others projects along I-880 were designed to improve capacity and safety implicit in an Interstate route. Federal, state, and local funds paid for the majority of the Interstate 880 upgrades. Additionally both Santa Clara and Alameda Counties passed transportation sales tax measures, with some proceeds earmarked toward I-880.

The projects completed from south to north:

  • 2010 - Build new exit lanes from Interstate 280 to Interstate 880
  • 2006 - Rebuild Interstate 88 / Coleman Avenue interchange
  • 1994 - Widen Interstate 880 over Caltrain tracks
  • 1998 - Rebuild U.S. 101 / Interstate 880 interchange
  • 2003 - Widen Interstate 880 to six lanes between U.S. 101 and Montague Expressway (Santa Clara County Route G-4)
  • 1995 - Complete Tasman Drive overpass
  • 2005 - Open new ramps at California 237 / Interstate 880 interchange
  • 1992 - Widen Interstate 880 from California 237 (Exit 8C) to Dixon Landing Road (Exit 10)
  • 2004 - Rebuild Dixon Landing Road over crossing
  • 2008 - Rebuild California 262 (Mission Boulevard) / Interstate 880 Interchange
  • 2008 - Construct carpool lanes from California 237 to California 262
  • 1998 - Widen Interstate 880 to eight lanes from Union City to Fremont; rebuild 12 interchanges
  • 2009 - Rebuild California 92 / Interstate 880 Interchange
  • 2002 - Repave Interstate 880 from Santa Clara-Alameda County Line north to High Street interchange in Oakland
  • 1997 - Demolish remains of former Interstate 880 structure destroyed by Loma Prieta Earthquake, and open new Cypress Freeway link between Interstate 980 and I-80/580 east of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Much of the interchange improvements involved removing former cloverleaf ramp merging patterns and replacing them with a more modern design. Nearly $2.5 billion in total was allocated toward these projects. Subsequent projects included extension of high occupancy vehicle lanes from California 237 to U.S. 101 and new ramps at the interchanges linking I-880 with California 77 (42nd Avenue) at High Street in Oakland, with Washington Boulevard in San Leandro, and at The Alameda interchange in Santa Clara.

Interstate 880 scenes
Cushing Parkway east ends at Fremont Boulevard opposite an on-ramp to Interstate 880 south in the city of Freemont. 08/05/05
The $94.6 million I-880 Southbound HOV Lane Project under construction from 2011 to 2013 reconfigured the six-ramp parclo interchange with Marina Boulevard in San Leandro. The arterial was expanded to include dedicated turn lanes for I-880 and a raised or paved median separating traffic. 12/30/01
The previous departure point for the on-ramp joining Marina Boulevard east with Interstate 880 south. A dual turn lane now connects the arterial eastbound with the Nimitz Freeway south further ahead. 12/30/01

  1. "Two new lanes to unplug bottleneck near 101." San Jose Mercury News, October 11, 2003.

Photo Credits:

12/30/01, 08/05/05 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 80
Interstate 280
Interstate 580
Interstate 980
U.S. 101

Page Updated 02-22-2008.

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