|Length:||1,381.29 mi (2,222.97 km)|
|History:||Designated in 1956
Completed in 1979
|South end:||Fed. 1 at Mexican border in San Diego, CA|
| I‑8 in San Diego, CA
I‑10 / US 101 in Los Angeles, CA
I‑580 near Tracy, CA
I‑80 in Sacramento, CA
I‑84 / US 30 in Portland, OR
I‑90 in Seattle, WA
|North end:||BC 99 at Canadian border in Blaine, WA|
Interstate 5 (I-5) is the main Interstate Highway on the West Coast of the United States, running largely parallel to the Pacific Ocean, Union Pacific Railroad's former Southern Pacific's Coast Route and U.S. Highway 101 from Mexico to Canada (California to Washington). It serves some of the largest cities on the U.S. West Coast, including Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and also links the capital cities of Washington (Olympia), Oregon (Salem), and California (Sacramento) together. The highway's southern terminus is the Mexico–United States border and its northern terminus is the Canada–United States border; it is the only Interstate highway to touch the U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico. Upon crossing the Mexican border at its southern terminus, Interstate 5 continues to Tijuana, Baja California as Mexico Federal Highway 1. Upon crossing the Canadian border at its northern terminus, it continues to Vancouver as British Columbia Highway 99. It is the 12th longest highway in the U.S. following Interstate 15 and the 5th longest north-south highway following Interstate 15.
Interstate 5 links to control cities in California (San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Redding, Mount Shasta, Weed, and Yreka), Oregon (Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, Roseburg, Eugene, Salem, and Portland), and Washington (Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Vancouver). North of Seattle, the control city is Vancouver, British Columbia; it is signed as "Vancouver B.C." in order to avoid confusion with Vancouver, Washington.
One notable control city that Interstate 5 does not directly reach is San Francisco, which is about 80 miles (130 km) west of the highway. To the south, in the Tracy area, Interstate 580 splits from I-5 towards San Francisco, while to the north, near Vacaville, Interstate 505 cuts south to Interstate 80, which serves that city. That routing, via I-580, I-80, and I-505, was planned originally as Interstate 5W.
The most southerly point of Interstate 5 is at the United States-Mexico border at the San Ysidro border crossing, one of the busiest in the world. Beginning at the border in San Ysidro, which is part of the city of San Diego, as the John J. Montgomery Freeway, I-5 goes through the suburbs of National City and Chula Vista before reaching downtown San Diego. It then parallels the Pacific coastline, going through the northern suburbs of San Diego, bisecting the University of California, San Diego campus, and passing the I-805 merge (where it becomes the widest interstate in the United States for a short stretch), before passing through the 28 miles (45 km) of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County. Here I-5 is also known as the San Diego Freeway.
At Dana Point, I-5 turns inland and heads due north through Mission Viejo to the El Toro Y interchange in southeastern Irvine. I-5 becomes the Santa Ana Freeway as it runs southeast to northwest, passing through major cities and suburbs in Orange and Southern Los Angeles counties. Southern Californians refer to it as "the 5 Freeway" or as the Santa Ana Freeway in the Los Angeles area. From this point, the San Diego Freeway continues northward as I-405.
When the freeway reaches the East Los Angeles Interchange one mile (1.6 km) east of downtown Los Angeles, I-5 becomes the Golden State Freeway. The route continues through the San Fernando Valley and then crosses the Newhall Pass through the Santa Susana Mountains into the Santa Clarita Valley. For about a four-mile (6 km) stretch between Santa Clarita Valley and the Pyramid Lake, the northbound and southbound lanes separate and cross sides, with the southbound lanes running to the east of the northbound ones. At that point, the Golden State Freeway rises sharply to the north through the Grapevine to eventually reach the second-highest point of its entire length, the Tejon Pass (elevation 4,183 ft (1,275 m)). through the Tehachapi Mountains. Path 26 power lines generally follow the freeway along this stretch. The freeway then descends sharply for 12 miles (19 km) at Tejon Pass to around 1,600 feet (490 m) at Grapevine near the southernmost point of the San Joaquin Valley, approximately 30 mi (48 km) south of Bakersfield and 4 mi (6.4 km) south from where State Route 99 splits away from it in Wheeler Ridge.
From Highway 99 to south of Tracy, I-5 skirts along the far more remote western edge of the great Central Valley, and thus here is removed from population centers such as Bakersfield and Fresno; other state highways provide these connections. Interstate 580 splits off from I-5 at a point south of Tracy, providing a loop-route connection to the San Francisco Bay Area. After passing Tracy, I-5 heads north through Stockton and Sacramento before turning west to Woodland. At Woodland, the interstate heads northwest again towards Dunnigan, where it converges with Interstate 505.
From Dunnigan, I-5 skirts north along the western edge of the Sacramento Valley to Red Bluff. I-5 then enters the Shasta Cascade region, passing through Redding and Shasta Lake before climbing up to near the foot of Mount Shasta. The interstate then travels to Weed and Yreka before reaching the Oregon border.
About 3 mi (4.8 km) north of the California border, the highway crosses 4,310 feet (1,310 m) Siskiyou Summit, the highest point on I-5, and then drops down into the Rogue Valley through Oregon's southern mountains and towns such as Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass. Turning north across three passes to the Umpqua Valley and through Roseburg, the mountains tend to turn into hills, and as it reaches Cottage Grove, the road enters the Willamette River Valley. At Eugene the highway intersects Interstate 105, a short spur route into Downtown Eugene. Some city highways intersect on I-5 in the Eugene Metro. The interstate then heads almost due north, skirting Albany and Corvallis, passing through Salem, and crossing through Woodburn. There were plans to build a spur, called Interstate 305, into Salem. I-5 covers 308 miles (496 km) in Oregon.
Just north of Salem, between mile marks 259 and 260 just short of mile mark 260, signs in the median and on both shoulders marks the place where the 45th parallel crosses I-5. It reads "45th Parallel half way between the Equator and the North Pole".
The highway then tracks a little to the northeast, and Interstate 205 splits off south of the Portland metro area. From here I-5 passes through Tualatin and Tigard along former U.S. Route 99W before hitting the southern terminus of I-405 and the Marquam Bridge. Also planned was a spur in Portland off I-405, called Interstate 505, but it was never built and has been removed from city plans. A stub of I-505 exists as a long exit ramp to U.S. Route 30.
After crossing the Willamette River on the Marquam Bridge, I-5 has junctions at the western end of Interstate 84 and the northern end of I-405. It then continues through the northern parts of the city of Portland, and crosses into Washington via the Interstate Bridge.
The highway begins in Washington over the Columbia River and drops down into the city of Vancouver. About seven miles (11 km) into the state, it reaches the northern terminus of I-205, which is on the eastern edge of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. It then tracks north by northwest to Kelso and Longview, at which point it ceases to parallel a large bend of the Columbia River. Continuing north between the Willapa Hills and the Cascade foothills, the freeway eventually reaches Olympia, where it bends sharply east. The highway passes though the northern end of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly Fort Lewis and McChord AFB) and Tacoma, where it bends sharply north again to reach Seattle. The Ship Canal Bridge carries it over Portage Bay in Seattle. The freeway continues north out of the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett metro area, crosses the floodplains of three rivers, through the Skagit Valley and the Mount Vernon-Burlington Metropolitan Area to the northern city of Bellingham, to arrive at the Peace Arch Canadian border crossing between Blaine, Washington, and Surrey, British Columbia. Highway 99 continues northwest from the border into Vancouver, B.C. I-5 covers 277 miles (446 km) in Washington.
On May 23, 2013, a portion of a bridge on Interstate 5 collapsed in Washington (near Mount Vernon, between Seattle and the Canadian border at mile marker 228.3), sending two cars into the water and requiring traffic in both directions to bypass the crossing. The Washington State Department of Transportation used a temporary structure to restore access across the river while a permanent bridge replacement was built. That process was completed September 15, 2013.
An extensive section of this highway (over 600 miles (970 km)), from approximately Stockton, California, to Portland, Oregon, follows very closely the track of the Siskiyou Trail. This trail was based on an ancient network of Native American footpaths connecting the Pacific Northwest with California's Central Valley. By the 1820s, trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company were the first non-Native Americans to use the route of today's I-5 to move between today's Washington State and California. During the second half of the 19th century, mule trains, stagecoaches, and the Central Pacific railroad also followed the route of the Siskiyou Trail. By the early 20th century, pioneering automobile roads were built along the path of the Siskiyou Trail, notably the Pacific Highway. The Pacific Highway ran from British Columbia to San Diego, California, and was the immediate predecessor of much of U.S. Route 99. The route of U.S. 99 was in turn used as a basis for much of the route of today's I-5.
A major deviation from the old U.S. 99 route is the Westside Freeway portion of I-5 in California's Central Valley. To provide a faster and more direct north-south route through the state, the decision was made to build a new freeway to the west and bypass Fresno, Bakersfield, and the rest of population centers in the area instead of upgrading the existing highway (which was re-designated as part of California State Route 99). This re-route through California's Central Valley was the last section of I-5 to be constructed, with the final segment dedicated and opened to traffic near Stockton, California on October 12, 1979. Representatives from both Canada and Mexico attended the dedication to commemorate the first contiguous freeway connecting the North American countries.
This direct route also bypasses San Francisco and the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area. Original plans called for a loop Interstate with a directional suffix, Interstate 5W. This route now roughly corresponds to I-580 from I-5 south of Tracy to Oakland, I-80 from Oakland to Vacaville, and I-505 from Vacaville to I-5 near Dunnigan. I-5W and most of the other Interstates around the country with directional suffixes were eventually renumbered or eliminated, sans I-35E and I-35W in Texas and Minnesota. Nevertheless, San Francisco is still listed as a control city on northbound I-5 between Highway 99 and I-580.
- I‑805 (bypass) in southern San Diego
- I‑15 in San Diego (future; this freeway is currently signed as State Route 15)
- I‑8 in San Diego
- I‑805 in northern San Diego
- I‑405 at the "El Toro Y" near Irvine
- SR 57 / SR 22 at the "Orange Crush" in Orange
- I‑605 in Santa Fe Springs
- I‑710 southeast of downtown Los Angeles
- I‑10 / US 101 / SR 60 at the large East Los Angeles Interchange, east of downtown Los Angeles
- I‑110 southeast of Los Angeles
- I‑405 in Sylmar
- I‑210 in Sylmar
- I‑580 south of Tracy
- I‑205 northeast of Tracy
- I‑305 / US 50 in Sacramento (I-305 hidden), called the Capital City Freeway
- I‑80 in Sacramento
- I‑505 in Dunnigan
- US 97 in Weed
- I‑105 in Eugene
- US 20 in Albany
- I‑205 in Tualatin
- OR 217 in Tigard
- I‑405 in Portland
- I‑84 / US 30 in Portland
- I‑405 in Portland
- I‑205 in Salmon Creek
- US 101 in Tumwater
- I‑705 in Tacoma
- I‑405 in Tukwila
- I‑90 in Seattle
- I‑405 in Lynnwood
- San Diego, California—I-805
- Los Angeles, California—I-105
- Los Angeles and Orange County, California—I-605
- Los Angeles and Orange County, California—I-405
- Tracy, California—I-205
- Sacramento, California—I-305 (unsigned)
- Zamora, California—I-505
- Eugene, Oregon—I-105
- Portland, Oregon—I-405
- Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington—I-205
- Tacoma, Washington—I-705
- Seattle, Washington—I-405
I-5 will have a complete set of auxiliary routes (105, 205, 305, 405, 505, 605, 705, 805, 905), with the completion of Interstate 905 in San Diego County. Currently, Interstate 80 and Interstate 90 are the only two interstates to have complete sets of auxiliary routes—by the numbers.
- Staff (December 31, 2013). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways as of December 31, 2013". Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- "Interstate 580 California". Interstate-Guide. Retrieved September 19, 2011.[unreliable source]
- "Interstate 505 California". Interstate-Guide. Retrieved September 19, 2011.[unreliable source]
- "Busiest border crossing". Interstate-guide.com. Retrieved November 27, 2011.[unreliable source]
- Valdes, Manuel (May 24, 2013). "'Horrified' trucker watches I-5 bridge collapse behind him". Seattle: KOMO-TV. Retrieved May 24, 2013. "Officials warned it could be weeks before things returned to normal along the heavily travelled corridor."
- Staff. "I-5–Skagit River Bridge Replacement". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
- "Museum of the Siskiyou Trail". Museumsiskiyoutrail.org. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- "Routes 1-8". California Highways. Retrieved September 19, 2009.[unreliable source]
- Staff. "Timeline of Notable Events of the Interstate Highway System in California". California Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- Media related to Interstate 5 at Wikimedia Commons