Interstate 80 in Nevada

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Interstate 80 marker

Interstate 80
Red line spanning northern Nevada with a blue line spanning southern Nevada.
Map of Nevada with I-80 in red
Route information
Maintained by NDOT
Length: 410.674 mi[2] (660.916 km)
Existed: June 29, 1956[1] – present
Major junctions
West end: I-80 at California state line
  I-580 / US 395 in Reno

US 95 Alt. to US 50 Alt. in Fernley
US 95 near Lovelock
US 95 in Winnemucca
US 93 in Wells

US 93 Alt. in West Wendover
East end: I-80 at Utah state line
Highway system

Nevada State Routes

US 50 SR 88

Interstate 80 (I-80) traverses the northern portion of the U.S. state of Nevada. The freeway serves the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, and also goes through the towns of Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, and West Wendover on its way through the state.

I-80 follows the historical routes of the California Trail, First Transcontinental Railroad, and Feather River Route throughout portions of Nevada. Throughout the entire state I-80 follows the historical routes of the Victory Highway, State Route 1, and U.S. Route 40 (US 40). The freeway corridor follows the paths of the Truckee and Humboldt Rivers. These rivers have been used as a transportation corridor since the California Gold Rush of the 1840s.

Route description[edit]

Truckee River[edit]

I-80 enters Nevada in the canyon of the Truckee River, paralleling the California Trail and the First Transcontinental Railroad. Upon exiting the canyon the freeway serves the Truckee Meadows, a name for the urban area consisting of Verdi, Reno, and Sparks. The freeway passes north of Downtown Reno in a depressed alignment before intersecting Interstate 580 / U.S. Route 395. The intersection with US 395 is the busiest portion, averaging 122,000 vehicles per day in 2006.[3] The freeway passes through downtown Sparks via a viaduct over the casino floor of John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort. After leaving the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area the freeway resumes following the Truckee River in a canyon to Fernley. Traffic volumes drop to 26,600 vehicles per day by Fernley and continue dropping to 8,400 by the time the freeway reaches the center of the state.[3] The freeway exits the Truckee River corridor near Wadsworth.[4]

Lahontan Valley/Forty Mile Desert[edit]

Dusk view of a freeway descending into a neon lit cityscape.
I-80 descending into Reno from the Sierra Nevada

Past Wadsworth, the freeway cuts across the Lahontan Valley. The Lahontan Valley is a barren desert, sometimes called the Forty Mile Desert, from the era of the California Trail. The name comes from the California Gold Rush where the emigrants who came into the Lahontan Valley via the Humboldt River. The travelers would have then to endure 40 miles (64 km) without usable water while crossing the valley, regardless of which of the two routes across the valley the travelers followed.[5] I-80 closely approximates the path of the emigrants between the Humboldt and Truckee Rivers.

A 6-lane freeway passing under a series of underpasses
I-80 in Downtown Reno

A marker stands at a rest area on the eastern edge of the valley, near the junction of I-80 and US 95, that honors travelers who suffered crossing the valley, thousands of whom abandoned possessions, animals, and even loved ones in the desert. Per the marker, this portion was the most dreaded portion of the California Trail.[4][5][6]

Humboldt River[edit]

Freeway passing and rail line running in parallel across a desert valley
I-80 approaching east end of Carlin Canyon; southwest of Elko
A divided highway passing through a hilly desert landscape. There is a rock outcrop on the right and a tree in the middle of the highway.
I-80 approaching east end of Carlin Canyon; southwest of Elko

For the next 246 miles (396 km), I-80 follows the Humboldt River.[7][8] Along the way the freeway passes through the towns of Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells. At Winnemucca, I-80 is joined by the Feather River Route; I-80 runs parallel to this railroad until the Utah state line.[4] The freeway is within visual distance of the river for most of this run. However, there are portions where the freeway bypasses bends by cutting across or tunneling under mountains along the canyon walls. Between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain, the freeway bypasses bends via side canyons and Golconda Summit, 5,159 feet (1,572 m).[4] The highway also bypasses Palisade Canyon (between Beowawe and Carlin) via Emigrant Pass 6,114 feet (1,864 m).[4] Just east of Carlin I-80 passes through the Carlin Tunnel to bypass curves of the river in the Carlin Canyon (between Carlin Tunnel and Elko).[9]

Eastern Nevada[edit]

gantry sign stating "Exit 410 – US-93 Alt – West Wendover – Ely" as a freeway descends into a town with salt flats in the background.
Approaching West Wendover from west

After Wells, I-80 departs the Humboldt River, First Transcontinental Railroad, and the California Trail.[4] From this point east the freeway follows the routes of Hastings Cutoff, Feather River Route, former US 40 and State Route 1. The freeway cuts across two mountain ranges before arriving at the Great Salt Lake Desert. The first is the Pequop Mountains via Pequop Summit, elevation 6,967 feet (2,124 m). The second is the Toano Range via Silver Zone Pass at 5,955 feet (1,815 m). Pequop Summit is the highest point on Interstate 80 in Nevada. After crossing these mountains the freeway arrives at West Wendover where the freeway enters both Utah and the Great Salt Lake Desert at the Bonneville Salt Flats.[4]

Overlaps[edit]

Portions of I-80 run concurrently with three U.S. Highways in Nevada:[8]

History[edit]

State Route 1 shield
State Route 1 - The first designation for what is now I-80 across Nevada, from approx. 1929-1939
US 40 shield
Until 1975, the route of I-80 was designated U.S. Route 40.

California Trail[edit]

The route of Interstate 80 was first used by California-bound travelers and was called the California Trail. From the Utah State line until modern Wells, I-80 follows a lesser used branch of the trail called Hastings Cutoff. The cutoff rejoins the main route of the trail near Wells. The main route of the California Trail is approximated by modern State Route 233 in eastern Nevada.

From Wells west to Lovelock, I-80 faithfully follows the California Trail. West of Lovelock, in the middle of the Humboldt Sink, the California Trail again splits into two branches. These branches, the Carson River route and the Truckee River route, are named for the waterways that guide each branch up the Sierra Nevada mountains. I-80 follows the Truckee route, the Carson route is approximated by U.S. Route 95, U.S. Route 50, U.S. Route 395 and State Route 88/California State Route 88.[4]

Transcontinental railroads[edit]

The route of modern I-80 was also previously used for the construction of two transcontinental railroads. The First Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869, closely followed the main line of the California Trail, and I-80 west of Wells. The Feather River Route was constructed in 1909, and generally follows the Hastings Cutoff through eastern Nevada. It also runs parallel to I-80 in Nevada east of Winnemucca.[4]

Highways[edit]

The first paved road across this portion of Nevada was the Victory Highway, designated in Nevada as State Route 1. With the formation of the U.S. Highway system, this route was numbered U.S. Route 40. From the formation of the Interstate Highway System the highway was gradually upgraded to Interstate Highway standards and signed Interstate 80. In 1974, officials in Utah initiated meetings with officials in Nevada and California to truncate the route of U.S. Route 91. By that time US 91 was mostly redundant with Interstate 15. Nevada officials agreed and further suggested that both US 91 and US 40 be truncated. Nevada officials recommended the changes occur in 1975, when the last Nevada piece of I-15 was expected to be complete.[10] The 1976 edition of the Official Highway map for Nevada was the first not showing the US 40 designation.[11] Even though the US Highway designation was removed, the freeway was not yet complete.[11] The last piece of I-80 in Nevada to be finished was the Lovelock bypass which started construction in 1981.[12] The 1982 Official Nevada Highway Map was the first to note I-80 as a contiguous freeway across the state. All of the business loops for I-80 in Nevada use the historical route of US 40.

Interstate 80 is also known in Nevada as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway and Purple Heart Trail.[11]

Exit list[edit]

County Location Mile[8] km Exit Destinations Notes
Washoe Verdi 1 Verdi (I-80 Bus. east) Westbound exit and entrance
2.8 4.5 2 Verdi (I-80 Bus. east / To SR 425) No westbound entrance
3.2 5.1 3 Verdi Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
4.8 7.7 4 Boomtown Garson Road
5.7 9.2 5 East Verdi (I-80 Bus. west, SR 425) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
Mogul 7.0 11.3 7 Mogul
  7.7 12.4 8 West 4th Street (SR 647) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Reno 9.2 14.8 9 Robb Drive
10.7 17.2 10 McCarran Boulevard West (SR 659)
12.5 20.1 12 Keystone Avenue (to I-80 Bus.)
13.3 21.4 13 Virginia Street (US 395 Bus.) – Downtown serves University of Nevada, Reno
14.1 22.7 14 Wells Avenue serves Reno Livestock-Events Center
14.9 24.0 15 I-580 south / US 395 – Carson City, Susanville
Sparks 15.4 24.8 16 Victorian Avenue, East 4th Street (SR 647)
16.1 25.9 17 Rock Boulevard (SR 668) serves Victorian Square; also signed for Nugget Avenue eastbound
16.8 27.0 18 SR 445 (Pyramid Way) serves Victorian Square
17.6 28.3 19 McCarran Boulevard East (SR 659, to I-80 Bus. west)
18.9 30.4 20 Sparks Boulevard serves Sparks Marina
19.7 31.7 21 Vista Boulevard, Greg Street
  22.6 36.4 22 Lockwood
  24.0 38.6 23 Mustang
  28.2 45.4 28 Patrick
  32.1 51.7 32 USA Parkway serves Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center; replaced former Tracy, Clark Station exit as of 1/21/2008
  36.9 59.4 36 Derby Dam
  39.0 62.8 38 Orchard
  40.2 64.7 40 Painted Rock
Wadsworth 44.0 70.8 43 Wadsworth, Pyramid Lake (I-80 Bus. east, SR 427)
Storey
No major junctions
Lyon Fernley 46.4 74.7 46
To US 95 Alt. south (I-80 Bus., SR 427) – West Fernley
48.9 78.7 48
US 95 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. west) to US 50 Alt. – East Fernley
West end of US 95 Alt. overlap
  50 Nevada Pacific Parkway
Churchill   65.2 104.9 65 Nightingale Hot Springs
  78.9 127.0 78 Jessup
  83.3 134.1 83 US 95 south – Fallon, Las Vegas East end of US 95 Alt. overlap; west end of US 95 overlap
Pershing   93.5 150.5 93 Toulon
Lovelock 105.5 169.8 105 Lovelock (I-80 Bus. east / SR 396) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
106.4 171.2 106 Downtown Lovelock (SR 398)
  107.2 172.5 107 East Lovelock (I-80 Bus. west / SR 856) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
  112.9 181.7 112 Coal Canyon (SR 396)
  120.2 193.4 119 Oreana, Rochester (SR 858)
  129.6 208.6 129 Rye Patch Dam (SR 401)
  138.7 223.2 138 Humboldt
  146.0 235.0 145 Imlay
  150.3 241.9 149 SR 400 – Mill City, Unionville
  152.1 244.8 151 Mill City, Dun Glen Westbound entrance is via exit 149
  158.7 255.4 158 Cosgrave
Humboldt   168.4 271.0 168 Rose Creek
  173.4 279.1 173 West Winnemucca Boulevard (I-80 Bus. east)
Winnemucca 176.7 284.4 176 US 95 north (I-80 Bus.) – Winnemucca, Downtown West East end of US 95 overlap
179.0 288.1 178 SR 289 – Winnemucca, Downtown East
  180.8 291.0 180 SR 794 (East Winnemucca Boulevard, I-80 Bus. west)
  187.7 302.1 187 Button Point
  194.5 313.0 194 Golconda, Midas (SR 789)
  200.5 322.7 200 Golconda Summit
  204.1 328.5 203 Iron Point
  205.6 330.9 205 Pumpernickel Valley
  212.5 342.0 212 Stone House
  217.2 349.5 216 Valmy
  222.7 358.4 222 Mote
Lander Battle Mountain 230.2 370.5 229 SR 304 (I-80 Bus. east) – West Battle Mountain
231.7 372.9 231 SR 305 – Downtown Battle Mountain
233.6 375.9 233 SR 304 (I-80 Bus. west) – East Battle Mountain
  244.7 393.8 244 Argenta
Eureka   254.5 409.6 254 Dunphy
  261.4 420.7 261 SR 306 – Beowawe, Crescent Valley
  269.2 433.2 268 Emigrant
  271.6 437.1 271 Palisade
Elko Carlin 280.0 450.6 279 SR 278 (I-80 Bus. east / SR 221) – West Carlin, Eureka
281.4 452.9 280 SR 766 – Central Carlin
282.7 455.0 282 SR 221 (I-80 Bus. west) – East Carlin
  293.3 472.0 292 Hunter
Elko 299.2 481.5 298 Elko West (I-80 Bus. east / SR 535)
301.9 485.9 301 SR 225 – Elko Downtown
304.4 489.9 303 Elko East (I-80 Bus. west)
  311.5 501.3 310 Osino
  315.5 507.7 314 Ryndon, Devils Gate
  317.7 511.3 317 Elburz
  322.2 518.5 321 SR 229 – Halleck, Ruby Valley
  329.0 529.5 328 River Ranch
  334.5 538.3 333 Deeth, Starr Valley (SR 230)
  344.4 554.3 343 Welcome, Starr Valley (SR 230)
  348.2 560.4 348 Beverly Hills
Wells 351.6 565.8 351 West Wells (I-80 Bus. east / SR 223 / SR 231)
352.5 567.3 352A US 93 – East Wells West end of US 93 Alt. overlap; signed as exit 352 eastbound
352B East Wells (I-80 Bus. west) Westbound exit only
  360.7 580.5 360 Moor
  365.9 588.9 365 Independence Valley
  373.8 601.6 373 Summit
  376.5 605.9 376 Pequop
  379.4 610.6 378 SR 233 – Oasis, Montello
  388.1 624.6 387 Shafter
  399.2 642.5 398 Pilot Peak
West Wendover 407.2 655.3 407 Ola
410.4 660.5 410
US 93 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. east) – West Wendover, Ely
East end of US 93 Alt. overlap
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weingroff, Richard F. "Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating the Interstate System". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  2. ^ Nevada Department of Transportation (January 2013). "State Maintained Highways of Nevada: Descriptions and Maps". Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "2006 Annual Traffic Report". Nevada Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Benchmark Maps (2003). Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas (Map). 1:250000. p. 47. ISBN 0-929591-81-X. http://www.benchmark.com.
  5. ^ a b "Forty-Mile Desert: Nevada Historical Marker 26". State Historic Preservation. Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-06. [dead link]
  6. ^ Brock, Dick. "Photos and transcription of markers along the Forty Mile Desert, placed by the Oregon/California Trails Association". Trails West Inc. [dead link]
  7. ^ Using distance between Lovelock and Wells
  8. ^ a b c Nevada Department of Transportation (2009). 2009-2010 Official Highway Map (Map). http://www.nevadadot.com/traveler/maps/StateMaps/pdfs/officialmap2009.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-05.[dead link]
  9. ^ Turner, Dan. "Carlin Canyon, Elko County, Nevada". Elko Rose Garden Association. Retrieved 2013-01-26. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Highway Resolution route 91". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  11. ^ a b c "Historical Maps". Nevada Department of Transportation.  |accessdate=2013-01-26
  12. ^ "NDOT News Spring 2006" (PDF). Nevada Department of Transportation. 2006. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing


Interstate 80
Previous state:
California
Nevada Next state:
Utah