What is on these pages?
Active state highways are included in white tables with green headers above each section.
Highway markers are also included to the left of the listings; they do not appear if the
route is not signed (e.g., much of the 900 series).
Active route listings
Length (in Iowa): How long the route is in miles and kilometers.
(To convert other distances, multiply the number of miles by 1.609 to get the
distance in kilometers.) For routes less than ten miles long, distances are
given in tenths; otherwise, they are rounded to the nearest whole mile or
Western/northern terminus: Where the highway begins (or enters Iowa) from the west
Eastern/southern terminus: Where the highway ends (or enters Iowa) from the east
Neighboring states' highway pages are linked if the highway crosses into another state;
for some sites, you may have to scroll down to find the specific highway number.
For spur routes that lead from another state-maintained highway into a a town or a state
park, I also include the county road that the route continues as from its endpoint.
Terminus photos: Where applicable, these are links to pages that contain photos of highway termini, hosted on Jeff Morrison's site.
Entrance photos: These are links to pages on Jeff Morrison's site that are similar to terminus photos, but show the points where Interstate and US highways enter Iowa.
Counties: A list of the counties, from north to south or
west to east, that the route goes through. Links to the Iowa DOT's legal description for the route in that county are provided if available.
Cities along route: A list of incorporated cities
along the route. I only include a city on this list if the road runs through
or along the city limits; however, I do allow for a little leeway if a freeway
or expressway passes the city. (In the case of a freeway, though, the city must
be served by its own interchange.) For Interstates, cities listed (1) must be
within two miles of the Interstate, and (2) must be served by its own exit(s).
(Note: For the shorter routes, cities are not listed if there is only
one of them on the route and it is one of the endpoints; they are mentioned under
NHS: Which segments of the route are parts of the National Highway
System (listed for US and appropriate state highways; Interstate highways
are part of the system by default). More information, including maps of
each state, can be found here.
Most of the NHS in Iowa, except for most segments through urban areas,
coincides with the state's Commercial and Industrial Network of highways
adopted in 1988.
Freeway segments: The length and starting and ending points of
any freeway segments. To qualify, the road must be controlled-access with
interchanges and no at-grade intersections.
Expressway segments: The length and starting and ending points of any expressway segments. To qualify, the road must be a divided highway that is at least five miles long (or part of a multiplex or a future expressway corridor), but they can have at-grade intersections as well as interchanges. Short segments of divided highways in cities are not included.
Exit lists: Links to any online lists of exits for that highway, where appropriate.
Multiplexes: Any segments where two or more routes share the same road. (Concurrencies with business routes are not included unless the business route designation is tied to an unsigned state highway number.)
(Note: Freeway and expressway segments are included for all
US highways; they are only included with state highways where appropriate.
They are also not included with Interstates, for obvious reasons.)
Designated: The approximate date when that segment of highway was designated.
Paving history: Notes which segments were paved at designation and which segments, by year, were upgraded from gravel, dirt, or bituminous ("dustless" gravel) surfaces to paved surfaces. Alignment changes resulting from pavings are listed here.
Major alignment changes: A list of significant relocations for that highway.
An alignment change is included if it meets one of the following criteria:
It is more than 10 miles long
It was moved more than one mile from its old alignment
It replaced another state highway, or another state highway replaced the old segment
It was extended or truncated by more than 3 miles
Many early alignment changes were done as newer paved roads were replacing older gravel
and dirt roads. Alignment changes resulting from four-lane highways are listed under "Upgrades"
Upgrades: A list of completion dates of freeway and expressway
segments, where appropriate. Information is based mostly on (1) maps and
(2) various newspaper articles.
Other noteworthy information can be found in this section.
Where applicable, all known branches of the route (past and present, including suffixed and business routes) are listed at the end of the individual route listings. Information on these is based on maps and personal observations.
Decommissioned routes are listed in gray tables with dark gray cells and italicized
headings. Some of them appear with Roman numerals after them, e.g., IA 27 (II); they
refer to the specific incarnation of that route (in this case, the second version
of IA 27). Each incarnation of a highway has its own route listing. No Roman numerals
are listed in route listings if it is referring to the current or only incarnation of a
Decommissioned route listings
Designated: The approximate date the route was designated
Decommissioned: The approximate date when the route was no longer signed,
or no longer appeared on maps
Original western/northern terminus: Where the route began
Original eastern/southern terminus: Where the route ended. Changes to either
terminus along the way are also noted.
Counties: A list of counties the route went through. Links to DOT legal descriptions are provided where available.
Paving history: Like the active route listings, the dates when each segment of the route was paved are also listed here.
Major alignment changes: If there were any significant changes to the route that
were not extensions or truncations, they are listed here.
Replaced by: A list of roads that replaced it.
Former terminus photos: Links to pages that show the historical termini as they
look today. Terminus photo links are only included if the road was decommissioned
after 1981, or if they appeared on the 1981 state transportation map (which showed
the status of highways as of October 1980). If the link is shown as "Terminus
photos" (without the "former"), then the link goes to a page with photos
of the road when it was still an active highway.
Dates of designation, decommissioning, and opening are my best estimates based on maps, newspaper articles, and other sources that contributors and I have seen. In most cases, exact dates are listed if:
- A road was one of the original state highways, which became official on July 1, 1920.
- A road was one of the original US highways or a state highway affected by the designation of an original US highway. Signage of the US highway system was completed on October 16, 1926, according to the Des Moines Register of the following day.
- A road was affected by the "Great Renumbering," which was approved by the Iowa State Highway Commission on March 20, 1968, and took effect on January 1, 1969.
- A road was shortened or decommissioned as a result of legislation passed in the spring of 2003 (the transfers became official on July 1, 2003).
- A route number was affected by the opening of a freeway or other realigned segment (if the
opening date is known).
- An opening date was mentioned in a newspaper article.
- An effective date or transfer of jurisdiction date is listed in that highway's legal description.
- In addition, Jeff Morrison has done some extensive research at the Iowa DOT's library in Ames where he looked through microfilm of Highway Commission meeting notes from the 1920s and 1930s. In most cases, the dates listed for highway commissionings are the dates that the Highway Commission approved the minutes for the meetings where that number was assigned.
When maps and route logs are consulted, if something changes
between one year's map or log and the next year's, then I list the change as having occurred in
the previous year (i.e., if the 1971 map had something that the 1970 map didn't have, the change
happened in 1970).
Some unfamiliar terms and
abbreviations may appear in the listings; the misc.transport.road
FAQ has sections that define many of them. I use state postal abbreviations to refer to
state highways: IA=Iowa, IL=Illinois, MN=Minnesota, MO=Missouri, NE=Nebraska, SD=South Dakota, and
Sources of information:
- Official state and county highway maps published by the Iowa State Highway
Commission from 1919 through 1975, and from the Iowa Department of Transportation from 1976 through the present. Federal aid
highway system maps from 1934, 1935, 1938, and 1941 were also consulted. Most of these maps
were found at the map collections of the University
of Iowa and the State Historical Society of Iowa's
libraries in Iowa City and Des Moines as well as public libraries in several other cities.
- Iowa Primary Road System Weekly Service Maps, as published in the Des
Moines Register on a weekly basis during travel seasons in the 1920s and printed
- Various commercial maps and road atlases (Rand McNally, Gousha, DeLorme,
etc.), including maps distributed by oil companies
- The Iowa DOT's annual Iowa Primary Road Sufficiency Log publication,
the primary source for road lengths (most lengths are rounded) and highway data
during times when state transportation maps were not published annually.
The Government Publications collection on
the third floor of the University of Iowa's Main Library has logs from 1973-76 and from
1979 to the present.
- The book Transportation in Iowa: A Historical Summary, by William H.
Thompson (1989), a source for some historical information
- Various other Highway Commission/DOT publications
- Newspaper articles
- Personal experience
- Contributions from readers of this page, misc.transport.road, and the AARoads forum, via e-mail
or newsgroup/message board postings
In addition, the Iowa DOT's current highway improvement plan has been a major source in finding out information about the state's expressway construction projects.
Highway shield images on this site were created with David Kendrick's
Shields Up program; they were modified,
using Windows Paint and Adobe PhotoDeluxe, and compared to photos of actual highway signs
to make them look realistic.
The maps on the local highway pages were created with Greenstreet Draw 3.5 after putting together a composite of street maps from the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder maps. I used Draw 3.5 for all lines (including roads) and text, another photo editing program to shrink the images, and Windows Paint to paste the shields (which are based on the ones I use for the exit lists) onto the map.
I am not guaranteeing that this information is 100% accurate.
If anyone has any corrections to the data on this site, please let me know.
About the author
I was born in Iowa City and have lived my whole life in Iowa. I grew up in Davenport and graduated from North High School in 1994; from there I spent two years at Scott Community College before transferring to the University of Iowa, where I graduated with a B.A. in Geography in December of 1999. I moved to Cedar Rapids in mid-2000 and spent two years there before moving to Des Moines in August 2002. I currently live in Ankeny and work in the technical support business, which keeps me busy for at least eight hours each day.
During the fall of 1997 I started putting a highway log together and did extensive research on past highway alignments through old road maps at the U of I's Main Library. I launched the Iowa Highways Page on January 10, 1998, as part of Jason's Pad on the Web. Then came Freeway Junctions of the Heartland and the Photo Gallery, which has grown in leaps and bounds since I got my own car in the fall of 1998. As time passed I phased out my non-highway-related pages to focus on the highway content.
You can see which Iowa counties I have visited here, and which highways I have clinched here.
Back to the Iowa Highways Page
© 1997-2017 by Jason
Hancock / Last updated January 31, 2017