The Iowa Department of Transportation is in the process of reconstructing I-80, I-29, and I-480 in the Council Bluffs / Omaha metropolitan area. This comprehensive interstate redesign, known as the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program, will modernize the highway system and improve mobility and safety in the area. We are committed to completing interstate improvements with minimal public inconvenience and keeping the traveling public informed of changes that impact travel.
Modernize and improve 14 miles of interstate
Accommodate planned developments along transportation corridors
Reducing traffic congestion
Improve the visual landscape
25 of 47 Bridges
8 of 14 Interstate Centerline Miles
4 of 12 Interchanges
102 of 146 Highway Lane Miles
I-29/Nebraska Avenue Interchange reconstruction began in fall 2020. This project includes rebuilding the existing, folded diamond interchange to meet current design standards and capacity needs. The reconstructed interchange will resemble the existing configuration with two loop ramps and two diagonal ramps north of Nebraska Avenue. Reconstruction will improve sight distances for drivers at the Nebraska Avenue intersection and add additional lanes on I-29.
Earthwork and detour paving were the primary focus of improvements at the I-29/Nebraska Avenue Interchange in 2020. Construction of the new northbound bridge over Nebraska Avenue was also started in 2020. Interstate 29 bridge construction will be the focus during 2021. The contractor will also complete grading and paving to accommodate future lanes on I-29.
In 2021, construction activities will impact a new area of Council Bluffs. Construction efforts will shift to the I-29/I-480/West Broadway System Interchange. This improvement project will address capacity needs, increase safety, and correct functional design issues. The project will provide direct access to West Broadway from I-29 via one-way frontage roads on each side of the interstate.
The Program team is coordinating with adjacent jurisdictions and developing an outreach strategy, for travelers, businesses and residents in the project area. In 2021, construction will be focused on building a system of frontage roads. Frontage roads will serve traffic needs in this area when I-29 is anticipated to be under construction in 2022.
Click or tap the circles to learn more about that project.
2020 Highlights: I-29 northbound was fully opened between U.S. 275/Iowa 92 and South Expressway. The contractor also installed new interstate lighting and signage to finish work at the interchange. Construction activities were complete in June 2020.
2020 Highlights: A new bridge was constructed over South Expressway. Construction of southbound I-29 between South Expressway and U.S. 275/IA 92 was completed and opened to traffic in summer 2020. A new on-ramp at South Expressway to I-80 eastbound and I-29 southbound was opened in late 2020 and construction activities on South Expressway and 30th Avenue were complete.
Looking Ahead: A second bridge will be built over South Expressway. Construction of the Dual, Divided Freeway, Phase III will be complete in early 2021 and temporary crossovers between Local and Express Lanes will be removed.
2020 Highlights: Work began in fall 2020. The contractor focused efforts on mainline I-29 and preparing detour areas. Construction of the new northbound bridge also began in 2020.
Looking Ahead: Existing I-29 bridges will be demolished, and new bridges will be constructed. Grading and paving work will begin on I-29 and will extend from just north of the West System Interchange to 9th Avenue.
2020 Highlights: Final design, right-of-way acquisitions, and utility relocations were completed in 2020.
Looking Ahead: Construction, grading, and paving is expected to begin in spring 2021.
2020 Highlights: Final design efforts began in 2019 and continued through 2020.
Looking Ahead: Final design will be completed, and construction, grading, and paving is expected to begin in spring 2022.
Clear, easy to understand signs and directions help drivers navigate the interstate system through the Council Bluffs metro. When the dual, divided freeway opened in 2019, the Program considered the feedback received on how signage could be enhanced to benefit the traveling public. In 2020, new signs and pavement markings that designated lanes were installed to help drivers and improve navigability within the dual, divided freeway system.
In areas where construction is complete, permanent lane markings were installed to help guide travelers safely through the area. Markings include high contrast “skip dashes” to enhance visibility and reflectivity during rain and snow events and glass beads that reflect light to make them more visible at night. The lane markings in Council Bluffs were also applied using a new epoxy paint system applied in grooves that Iowa DOT is using to increase the lifespan of the lane markings. This new method of marking roads isn’t simply geared towards today’s drivers. The wider and more visible paint markings will help current vehicles that are equipped with safety features like lane-keeping assist, but Iowa DOT is also planning for the future where these lines will help autonomous vehicles ‘see’ the road better.
In March 2020, new protocols were quickly implemented, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect the health and safety of all team members, including contractors. As a result of school closings and people working from home, commuter traffic volumes decreased by as much as 40%. This reduction in traffic allowed contractors to close more lanes and revise overnight closure times. This flexibility meant that construction projects already underway were able to continue and remain on schedule.
Since collaboration still needed to occur with contractors and stakeholders, we found ways to virtually hold these important meetings. We conducted our first completely online Traffic Incident Management meeting with area first responders and had a record-setting number in attendance. The meeting drew engagement from participants as far as Ames, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as from the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro area. Pre-bid, construction kick-off, and weekly coordination meetings with staff and contractors has occurred virtually as well. We also engaged with elected officials through a virtual presentation to inform them about on-going and upcoming construction.
The Iowa DOT and Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program, like all Departments of Transportation, has experienced financial impacts related to COVID-19. Much of the DOT’s funding comes from taxes on fuel. With commuter traffic down, the Iowa DOT re-evaluated schedules and made adjustments to accommodate projected revenue shortfalls. As a result, the Nebraska Avenue and I-29/I-480/West Broadway projects were moved to the state fiscal year 2021. Additionally, the pandemic continues to impact material availability and has increased material and labor costs. In spite of these challenges, the Program remains well under the original $2 billion estimated budget.
Concrete deck pour for a new bridge over I-29 southbound.
Since 2014, the Program has provided informative, timely, and concise communications to stakeholders and the traveling public throughout the region. The public engagement approach capitalizes on opportunities that communicate the thoughtful planning and execution of taxpayer dollars. Program, traffic, and construction-related information is shared with the public through a variety of in-person and online platforms.
In 2020, much of the Program’s public outreach was provided virtually; through social media and other online tools. The Program’s annual elected official’s briefing was presented in an online format in May. Prior to construction activities near the I-29/Nebraska Avenue Interchange, the Program provided website and email updates as well as direct contact with impacted stakeholders and businesses in the area.
The Iowa Transportation Commission and Iowa DOT recognize that the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program is a significant investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure. We continue to look for opportunities to effectively and efficiently manage the successful delivery of highway improvement projects.
Program construction started in 2008 and is expected to continue through 2024. Approximately 72% of Program construction has been completed. Projects are being grouped strategically to maximize improvements while minimizing construction impacts to Council Bluffs residents and the traveling public.
Construction of the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program has been active since 2008. These statistics provide a snapshot of the magnitude of work completed in 2020.
Rollover the dots for a snapshot of work completed in 2020.
Much has been accomplished since construction of the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvements began in 2008. The Iowa DOT and Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program appreciates the cooperation of all our project partners, the work of design and contractor teams, and the public’s flexibility and patience as we work to improve safety and the ability to move growing numbers of people and goods through this critical area of our state. While our work is far from done, completion is in sight.
For a detailed review of the history of the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program, please visit the program website.