Interstate 80 in Wyoming
Interstate 80 or I -80 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Wyoming. The freeway forms an east-west route through the south of the state, from the Utah border through Rock Springs, Laramie, and Cheyenne to the Nebraska border. The road crosses the Rocky Mountains. The highway is 648 kilometers long.
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I-80 at Green River.
I-80 at Elk Mountain in the winter.
Interstate 80 in Utah comes from Salt Lake City and crosses the Wyoming border near the town of Evanston. I-80 runs here at 2,000 meters above sea level. East of Evanston there are three unimportant mountain passes of about 2,200 meters. However, the mountains around are not much higher. East of Evanston, US 189 also branches off. This is followed by an approximately 140-kilometre stretch to Green River. I-80 runs largely through desolate rangeland, with only partially irrigated agriculture. West of Green River, US 30 merges with I-80.
Around the town of Green River, I-80 leads through a somewhat more mountainous area and has a short tunnel here. Green River is located at an altitude of approximately 1,850 meters, surrounded by barren mountains with peaks of up to 2,300 meters. Just 20 miles to the east, I-80 passes Rock Springs, where US 191 connects. After Rock Springs there is a 180-kilometer long route to Rawlins, the highway here leads through lonely desert area that is often around 2,000 meters above sea level. There are no real places on this route except for a few truck stops and hamlets.
Rawlins is a small town at an altitude of 2,000 meters. US 287 also merges here, creating a 20-mile double-numbered I-80, US 30, and US 287 east of Rawlins as far as Walcott. At Walcott these routes split, I-80 follows a higher route on the slopes of the Medicine Bow Mountains and US 30/287 follows a more northerly route that is somewhat lower. There is then a 120 kilometer long route to Laramie. I-80 here reaches an elevation of 2,401 meters above sea level. To the south are mountains with peaks up to 3,600 meters, with views of higher forests. Then you descend to Laramie at 2,100 meters altitude.
In Laramie, US 30 rejoins and crosses US 287, which continues south. Laramie is a small college town. East of Laramie follows the steepest part of I-80, the highway here leads through a mountain range with peaks around 2,700 meters and reaches an elevation of 2,633 meters at Sherman Summit, the highest point on I-80 in Wyoming. This is also the last mountain area on the I-80 route, followed by a gradual descent to Cheyenne, which lies on the High Plains. One leaves the Rocky Mountains here.
Cheyenne is located at an altitude of more than 1,800 meters in barren rangeland. In Cheyenne one crosses Interstate 25. Here you also cross the US 85 and the US 30 splits off here again and then runs parallel to I-80. East of Cheyenne, I-80 and US 30 rejoin for 50 kilometers through the barren plains to the border with Nebraska. This is the only portion of I-80 through Wyoming that passes through more agricultural land where the land is cultivated. At Pine Bluffs, the border follows with Nebraska, then Interstate 80 in Nebraska continues east across the High Plains to North Platte and finally Omaha.
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I-80’s predecessor was the historic Lincoln Highway, which became part of US 30 in Wyoming from 1926. Historically, the route of I-80 was the primary migrant route to the western United States, as it was the only route that did not require difficult mountain passes. The Oregon Trail is the historic predecessor from the 1830s-1840s.
Construction of I-80 became topical with the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956. Construction began almost immediately, as early as August 1959, the first section of I-80 in Wyoming, the Rawlins bypass, was opened. Shortly thereafter, the first longer stretch opened in the Great Divide Basin. The highway was subsequently fragmented but built at a rapid pace during the 1960s, becoming more and more complete by the late 1960s. The Rock Springs Bypass opened in 1964, the Evanston Bypass in 1968, and the Green River Bypass in 1969. The Laramie bypass was opened in 1966, as was the route around Cheyenne.
Most of Interstate 80 is built directly over or parallel to US 30. An exception was between Laramie and Wolcott Junction, where US 30 passed through Medicine Bow below. It was decided to build I-80 closer to the base of the Medicine Bow Mountains via an approximately 20-mile shorter route. This stretch of I-80 is approximately 400 meters higher than US 30 via Medicine Bow. This section of I-80 was built through undeveloped land and therefore opened in one go, a 124-kilometer stretch that opened on October 3, 1970. This was the largest opening of all Interstate Highways in the United States up to that point. In 1977, the last two sections east of Cheyenne opened to traffic and Interstate 80 was completed in Wyoming.
In the first years after opening, there were major problems with accessibility in the winter. Wyoming is notorious for high winds, which cause whiteouts to develop quickly. To counter this, snow fences have been placed along parts of I-80 to reduce snow dunes and snowdrifts. Long stretches of I-80 can also be closed with barriers if the conditions are too unsafe.
Some of these “exits” should be read as milepost.
|Exit 217||Exit 220||5 km||08-1959|
|Exit 154||Exit 172||29 km||09-1959|
|exit 28||Exit 34||10 km||10-1959|
|Exit 10||exit 28||29 km||10-1961|
|Exit 138||Exit 154||26 km||10-1961|
|Exit 321||Exit 322||2 km||10-1961|
|Exit 172||Exit 176||6 km||09-1962|
|Exit 199||Exit 211||19 km||09-1962|
|exit 6||Exit 10||6 km||10-1962|
|exit 48||exit 56||13 km||10-1962|
|Exit 187||Exit 199||19 km||10-1962|
|Exit 337||Exit 358||34 km||11-1962|
|Exit 317||Exit 321||6 km||09-1963|
|Exit 229||Exit 235||10 km||10-1963|
|exit 130||Exit 138||13 km||11-1963|
|Exit 111||exit 120||14 km||07-1964|
|exit 0||Exit 3||5 km||08-1964|
|Exit 105||Exit 111||10 km||09-1964|
|exit 120||exit 130||16 km||10-1964|
|Exit 311||Exit 313||3 km||10-1964|
|Exit 313||Exit 317||6 km||10-1964|
|Exit 176||Exit 187||18 km||10-1964|
|Exit 330||Exit 337||11 km||10-1964|
|Exit 358||Exit 359||1 km||10-1964|
|Exit 99||Exit105||10 km||11-1964|
|Exit 389||Exit 396||11 km||12-1964|
|Exit 211||Exit 217||10 km||01-1965|
|Exit 224||Exit 229||8 km||10-1965|
|Exit 370||Exit 389||31 km||11-1965|
|exit 325||Exit 330||8 km||10-1966|
|Exit 79||Exit 89||16 km||11-1966|
|Exit 220||Exit 224||6 km||12-1966|
|Exit 322||exit 325||5 km||12-1966|
|Exit 359||Exit 362||5 km||12-1966|
|Exit 396||Exit 399||5 km||01-1967|
|Exit 68||Exit 79||17 km||07-1967|
|Exit 3||exit 6||5 km||01-1968|
|exit 56||Exit 68||19 km||07-1968|
|Exit 34||exit 48||22 km||06-1969|
|Exit 89||Exit 99||16 km||10-1969|
|Exit 235||Exit 311||124 km||03-10-1970|
|Exit 362||Exit 367||8 km||03-1977|
|Exit 367||Exit 372||8 km||05-1977|
|Exit 68||Little America||12,200||13,400|
|exit 85||Green River||13,600||14,000|
|Exit 102||Rock Springs||19,500||17,000|