2023 Annual Report

Iowa Department of Transportation Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program Construction of the I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange over Northbound Frontage Road and West Broadway.

As the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program nears the end of construction, it is important to reflect on the significant investment that the Iowa Transportation Commission has made in our area’s state transportation infrastructure. This investment has had a profound impact on our community, both in terms of the physical improvements made to the interstate system and the economic and social benefits that have resulted.

The new Dual, Divided Freeway, widened lanes and shoulders, new bridges and interchanges, improved drainage and lighting, and aesthetic enhancements have all made our interstate system safer, more efficient, and visually appealing. These improvements will make it easier for residents and visitors to travel through our community, and they will also help to attract new businesses and residents.

We are grateful to the Iowa Transportation Commission for their vision and leadership in making the Program a reality. This investment is truly transforming our community and will help attract new businesses and residents to the area.

Program Status

The Iowa Department of Transportation has reconstructed 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, has modernized the highway system and improved 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.

  • 44 of 47
  • 11 of 12
  • 12.7 of 14
    Centerline Miles
  • 135.75 of 146
    Highway Lane Miles

Centerline Miles represent the total length of a given road from its starting point to its end point. Lane Miles measure the total length and lane count of a given highway or road (Lane Miles = Centerline Miles X number of lanes).

Project Goals

Project Benefits

    Project Benefits

  • Improve the Visual Landscape
  • Modernize and Improve 17 miles of interstate
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Accommodate Planned Developments along transportation corridors

Project Highlights

I-29/I-480/West Broadway System Interchange

The I‑29/I‑480/West Broadway System Interchange Project has been under construction since spring 2021. Interstate and bridge construction were the focal points of work this year. Initially, the project was anticipated to be complete in mid-2024. However, thanks to the efforts of the contractor, much of the work was finalized by the close of 2023, significantly ahead of schedule.

The re-imagined interchange is now a beacon of efficiency and safety for vehicle movement on I‑480 and I‑29. It offers seamless traffic flow and has reduced the need for motorists to change lanes. In addition to addressing traffic capacity needs and improving safety, the reconstructed interchange provides direct access to West Broadway from I‑29 via one-way frontage roads.

Iowa DOT appreciates and is aware of the inconveniences demolition and reconstruction efforts have caused residents, particularly those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the I‑29/I‑480/West Broadway System Interchange. Iowa DOT would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to the residents for their understanding and support throughout this essential infrastructure upgrade. The remarkable patience exhibited during this challenging project is a testament to the resilience of the Council Bluffs community.

The I-29/I-480/West Broadway System Interchange was completed six months ahead of schedule and $14M under the estimated budget.

Iowa DOT extends its heartfelt gratitude to area residents for their understanding and support throughout this essential upgrade project. Watch the video!
 I-29 ramps to/from I-480 in Council Bluffs I-29 ramps to/from I-480 in Council Bluffs
I-29 southbound to I-480 westbound I-29 southbound to I-480 westbound
West Broadway prior to the new I-29 bridges West Broadway prior to the new I-29 bridges
Eastbound I-80 bridge construction over Madison Avenue October 2023

Madison Avenue Interchange Reconstruction

The Madison Avenue Interchange Reconstruction Project, which began in September 2022, represents the final piece of the overall interstate reconstruction program. This project will rebuild the interchange and bridges to meet current design standards and accommodate traffic capacity needs.

The new, reconstructed interchange will resemble the existing one, in a tight urban diamond formation. Four lanes will be constructed on Madison Avenue for through traffic and additional turn lanes will improve traffic capacity and safety. A new bike/pedestrian path along Madison Avenue will also be constructed as part of the project. The pedestrian/bike trail on Valley View Drive will be temporarily relocated during construction while a new, permanent one is rebuilt. Other benefits include longer acceleration lanes for vehicles merging onto I‑80, allowing drivers to turn right from Madison Avenue onto the I‑80 westbound ramp without stopping.

In 2023, significant progress was made on the eastbound phase of the project, including grading, paving, bridge construction, and enhancements to the sanitary sewer and geotechnical systems. To facilitate these improvements, the ramp from Madison Avenue to I-80 eastbound was closed for six months and reopened in November 2023. I-80 eastbound was also shifted to the new lanes and bridges constructed at this interchange.

The project’s current phase of work is expected to be complete by summer 2024. The next phase will address westbound bridges and ramps and will begin in either spring or summer 2024.

Madison Interchange Schematic
Click to enlarge

Project Activity

Construction projects were prioritized based on potential traffic management benefits, improved safety, and increased capacity to move more vehicles through the urban area of the interstate system.

Project Activity Map

Project Timeline

Scroll or swipe to view the timeline.

Project Timeline
Click to enlarge

    Completed Projects

  • 2008 - 24th Street Bridge
  • 2012 - I-80 Missouri River Bridge (Iowa)
  • 2014 - West System Interchange, Phase 1
  • 2015 - Dual, Divided Freeway, Phase 1
  • 2017 - Railroad Relocation, U.S. 275 / Iowa 92 Interchange and West System Interchange, Phase 2
  • 2019 - Dual, Divided Freeway, Phase 2, East System Interchange, I-80 Missouri River Bridge (Nebraska) and Union Pacific Railroad Bridge
  • 2021 - Dual, Divided Freeway, Phase 3
  • 2022 - Nebraska Avenue Interchange
  • Looking Ahead

  • 2024 - I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange
  • 2026 - Madison Avenue Interchange

Construction I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange

Aerial View of Project

Efforts this year focused on rebuilding the interstate and bridge construction. The interstate was opened to traffic in both directions by August and the final ramp was opened in October. Crews then focused on construction impacting local, city roads. Nearly all construction was complete by the end of 2023.

  • Looking Ahead: In 2024, the contractor will be completing remaining tasks on the punch list.
  • Cost: $182M
  • Spent to date: $179.8M
  • Duration: 38 months
  • Time spent to date: 32 months
  • Schedule: 04/2021–06/2024

Design + Construction I-80/Madison Avenue Interchange

Aerial View of Project

The Madison Avenue ramp to I-80 eastbound was closed for six months to facilitate bridge construction along with grading and paving of the mainline interstate. The contract for the westbound construction package was awarded in late 2023.

  • Looking Ahead: Construction in the eastbound direction will conclude in 2024, once final grading tasks are complete. Westbound construction will kick off at the start of 2024, with primary activities being grading and bridge demolition.
  • Cost: $114M
  • Spent to date: $57M
  • Duration: 45 months
  • Time spent to date: 15 months
  • Schedule: 09/2022–06/2026

Getting you There

Intriguing White Blocks:
A Novel Approach to Roadway Construction

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Madison Avenue Interchange project this year has been about the white StyrofoamTM-like blocks seen throughout the construction site. These blocks are known as rigid geofoam. They are being used as a lightweight, yet durable, alternative to traditional dirt or concrete fill as we re-build some of the new roadway. Because soils in the project area are highly compressible, traditional fill would be prone to compact and settle significantly over the coming year. Ultimately, this would shorten the lifespan of both pavement and structures. The 52.5K cubic yards of rigid geofoam blocks installed on the interchange reconstruction project, can handle the weight of the interstate and its traffic for decades, alleviating long-term settlement issues and helping us design an interstate system that is built to last for generations.

Geotechnical Engineering
Geotechnical issues are not new to the program. To overcome sandy subsoils and poor drainage, the team used a variety of geotechnical engineering techniques to monitor settlement and utilized modern materials—such as wick drains, mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls, lightweight cellular concrete, and subsurface ground improvements called “rigid inclusions”—to accelerate or eliminate settlement.

This has provided opportunities to advance critical-path construction stages and keep the program on schedule and under budget.

Aerial View of Construction

Closing the I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange for Two Years

How did the Iowa DOT close this busy interchange for two years without causing a major traffic nightmare? When designing the I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange, engineers evaluated many options for constructability, schedule, budget, and impacts to traffic. It was determined that the best option was to close I-29 for up to two years. Iowa DOT identified detour routes for local traffic and built frontage roads to keep traffic moving and off residential streets when the interstate closed in November 2021. To minimize traffic disruptions, global detours directed traffic away from the project limits. We also worked closely with online navigation services like Waze and Google Maps to provide accurate information regarding closures and detour routes. The project team developed a communication plan to minimize closure impacts while educating and keeping travelers, the public, and stakeholders informed of project progress.

While we anticipated high traffic volumes, we were pleased to find that they were lower than expected. This is likely due to planned communications about the closure and providing drivers with advanced notice and options to plan their routes.

The construction contract relied heavily on a contractor-developed project schedule that was updated monthly. This information was used to help identify delays and impacts to upcoming milestone dates. The contractor was able to complete all structures and pavement by fall 2023 and reopened the interstate in August, allowing the contractor to earn 100% of all incentive bonuses. This is a testament to their hard work and dedication to completing the project on time and within budget.

The project team developed a detailed traffic plan that included detours, temporary signals, and increased enforcement. Multi-faceted coordination was necessary to make sure traffic could flow smoothly throughout the construction zone. Several different departments within Iowa DOT worked with consultants HDR and HNTB. Together, they planned all work to be completed and collaborated with city offices, the Army Corps of Engineers, first responders, and others—while actively communicating with those who depend on I-29/I-480/West Broadway every day. Each entity had multiple offices that contributed to coordination efforts. This proved essential for such a complex project with significant impacts to the public.

By working closely with the public and stakeholders, the project team was able to minimize impacts from the closure and complete the project ahead of schedule and within budget.

Aerial View of Construction

Group Photo of Project Team

The Contractor
Ames Construction and their subcontractors, played a vital role in project success and constructed the interchange on an accelerated schedule. Payments to the contractor for work completed in a two-week period were sometimes more than the total cost of other typical Iowa DOT projects—some as high as $5.7 million.

Public Outreach

Since 2014, the Program has been committed to providing informative, timely, and concise communications to stakeholders and the region’s traveling public. 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 2023, much of the Program’s public outreach continued to be provided virtually through social media and other online tools. During construction activities near the I-29/I-480/West Broadway Interchange and Madison Interchange, the Program provided website and email updates, as well as direct contact with impacted stakeholders in the two areas. The Program’s annual elected official’s briefing was presented in an online format in May.

In September 2023, Iowa DOT held a community appreciation event for the residents of Council Bluffs at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. This event saw active participation from project partners such as the city, contractor, emergency responders, and others. They provided an interactive and entertaining ‘touch the truck’ activity for children, enabling them to understand the workings of the interstate system better. We express our sincere gratitude to the mayor and all other participants for their valuable presence at the event.

Cover for Briefing Slideshow The Program’s annual Elected Officials’ Briefing was presented in an online format in May 2023.
Iowa DOT allowed children to climb into large maintenance trucks at the public appreciation event.
Council Bluff Police, shown here posing for a photo, interacted with public at the event.
Iowa DOT Highway Helper, one of several partners at the event, provided information about what they do to keep our roadways safe.
Commemorative stickers were handed out to the public at the event.

2023 Program Recognition

American Society of Civil Engineers, 2023 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Honor Award
for the I-80/I-29 Dual, Divided Freeway Project

American infrastructure magazine Pubby Award: Road Project of the Year
for the I-80/I-29 Dual, Divided Freeway Project

Social Media Analytics

Public outreach is provided through the Program’s social media channels, including X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook.

TwitterX (formerly Twitter)

  • 67,306 Impressions
  • 1,786 Engagements
  • 20 New Followers
  • 176 Reactions
  • 1,430 Post Clicks


  • 792,399 Impressions
  • 34,076 Engagements
  • 415 New Followers
  • 6,687 Reactions
  • 129 Post Clicks
  • Impressions: the number of times content was displayed
  • Engagements: any form of interaction on social media including likes, comments or shares
  • Followers: people who have liked, or “followed” accounts on social media
  • Reactions: likes or emoji responses to a post
  • Shares/Retweets: the number of times individuals have shared a post to their own social media followers
  • Post Clicks: the number of times a post was clicked, not including reactions, comments or shares

Long-Term Strategy

Program construction started in 2008 and is expected to continue through 2026. Approximately 93% of Program construction has been completed. Projects were grouped strategically to maximize improvements while minimizing construction impacts to Council Bluffs residents and the traveling public.

As of December 2023, all major contract packages in the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program have been bid and contracts awarded.

Projects Bid through December 2023

  • Project Contracts Awarded: 23
  • Projects Yet to Bid: 0

Dollars Spent through December 2023

  • Awarded Contracts Value: $1.24B
  • Amount Spent: $1.18B
  • Additional Dollars Programmed: $2M

Dollars allocated per Fiscal Year

80 64 48 32 16 0

Approved by the Iowa Transportation Commission, June 2023.
*No program funds have been allocated in FY2026 because all program activities will be awarded at that point.

By the Numbers

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 2023.

52,500 cubic yards of geofoam blocks 52,500 to-date
45,000 linear feet of pipe 177,500 to-date
37,750 linear feet of conduit 242,500 to-date
2,600 tons of bridge structural steel 53,695 to-date
90,450 cubic yards of concrete poured 776,600 to-date
59 new tower & street lights 438 to-date

Click or tap the dots for a snapshot of work completed in 2023.

Panorama of ongoing construction
2,180 tons reinforcing steel 22,530 to-date
3,074,000 cubic yards of earthwork moved 14,265,000 to-date
130,400 square yards of concrete paving 21,56,550 to-date
228,000 square feet of bridge deck poured 2,446,000 to-date
4,600 linear feet of retaining wall 94,700 to-date

The Road Ahead

Much has been accomplished since the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvements construction 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 have worked to improve safety and accommodate the growing numbers of people and goods moving through this critical area of our state. While our work is not done, completion is in sight.


  • I‑80/Madison Avenue westbound project expected to begin
  • I‑29/I‑480/West Broadway Interchange complete


  • I‑80/Madison Avenue Interchange complete


  • Council Bluffs Interstate Improvement Program concludes
For a detailed review of the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program, visit
Looking for more? View the 2023 Annual Report PDF and previous year’s reports by visiting councilbluffsinterstate.iowadot.gov/resources/program-docs.