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Interstate 29

Interstate 29

Total length: 751 miles (1,209 km)
Southern terminus: Kansas City, MO, at JCT I-70
Northern terminus: Pembina, ND, at Canadian border

States traversed & length in each:

  • Missouri — 129 miles (208 km)
  • Iowa — 152 miles (245 km)
  • South Dakota — 253 miles (407 km)
  • North Dakota — 217 miles (349 km)

Major cities along route:

  • Kansas City, MO
  • St. Joseph, MO
  • Council Bluffs, IA
  • Sioux City, IA
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Fargo, ND
  • Grand Forks, ND

Junctions with non-related Interstates:

  • Interstate 70: Southern terminus in Kansas City, MO
  • Interstate 35: Multiplex from southern terminus to Exit 1A in Kansas City, MO
  • Interstate 635: Exit 3B in Riverside, MO
  • Interstate 435: Multiplex from MO Exit 14 (Kansas City) to MO Exit 17 (Platte City)
  • Interstate 80: Multiplex from MP 48 to MP 51 in Council Bluffs, IA
  • Interstate 480: Exit 53B in Council Bluffs, IA
  • Interstate 680: Multiplex from IA Exit 61 (Crescent) to IA Exit 71 (Honey Creek)
  • Interstate 90: Exit 84 in Sioux Falls, SD
  • Interstate 94: Exit 63 in Fargo, ND

Related loops and spurs:

  • Interstate 229 — 15 miles long; 180° loop, west of I-29, through downtown St. Joseph, MO; double-decked section on the riverfront downtown; termini at I-29 Exits 43 & 56
  • Interstate 129 — 3 miles long; spur from I-29 south of Sioux City, IA, to U.S. 77 southwest of South Sioux City, NE; one of only two three-digit Interstates (along with I-535 in Wisconsin) to exist in a state its two-digit parent never enters; entire length multiplexed with U.S. Routes 20 and 75; I-29 IA Exit 144B NB/144 SB
  • Interstate 229 — 11 miles long; spur that forms a ¼ beltway (SE quadrant) of Sioux Falls, SD; ends at I-90 Exit 400 northeast of town; I-29 Exit 75

Length I’ve traveled: From southern terminus to MO Exit 1A (along I-35 multiplex in Kansas City); from MO Exit 14 (eastern I-435 split) to IA Exit 144A (U.S. 20/Sioux City)

Time zones:
Central — Entire length

Counties traversed:
Missouri — Jackson, Clay, Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Atchison

Iowa — Fremont, Mills, Pottawattamie, Harrison, Monona, Woodbury

South Dakota — Union, Lincoln, Minnehaha, Moody, Brookings, Deuel, Hamlin, Codington, Grant, Roberts

North Dakota — Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh, Pembina

A quick hypertext drive: Interstate 29 is the major route connecting the cities of the northeastern Great Plains with one another and the so-called “prairie provinces” of central Canada. In spite of its exit and mile numbering in Missouri, it actually begins at the northeastern corner of the “Alphabet Loop” which surrounds downtown Kansas City, MO; for its first five miles, it carries on a useless multiplex with Interstate 35, across the Paseo Bridge and into the northern part of the city. The exit and mile numbering uses the split from I-35 as its zero point, despite the fact that I-29 has already traveled five miles to this point.

The first few miles after the I-35 split are only four lanes; later, I-29 widens to eight lanes, and farther out from town as it turns to the northwest, narrows to six lanes as it passes by Kansas City International Airport. The highway then carries on a short multiplex with I-435, Kansas City’s outer beltway, before continuing on by itself in a reasonably direct line toward St. Joseph. Narrowing to four lanes along the way, it passes to the east of that city, spawning I-229 to serve downtown; once north of town, I-29 turns back to the northwest. These southernmost 60-65 miles (96-105 km) are by far the most hilly part of I-29; in fact, after one particularly steep grade coming off of a bluff, perhaps 20 miles (32 km) north of St. Joseph, I-29 quickly becomes extremely flat.

Once I-29 makes this descent off the bluffs, it stays in the billiards-table-flat plain of the Missouri River, between the river and the bluffs. It carries on into Iowa, passing through fairly desolate rural areas until it approaches Council Bluffs from the south. On the south side of Council Bluffs, I-29 multiplexes with I-80 for three miles, resuming its own alignment just before I-80 crosses the river into Nebraska. This is a common criticism of the routing of I-29, the fact that it doesn’t serve the much larger city of Omaha; this probably has to do with the fact that the river plain is much wider on the Iowa side than the Nebraska side, particularly north of Omaha. In any case, I-29 leaves Council Bluffs to the north, after passing through a couple of tight curves in town, and joins I-80’s Omaha bypass of I-680 for 10 miles.

North of the northern I-680 split, I-29 settles back into the same flat, very rural surroundings it passed through south of Council Bluffs. Much of the rest of the highway from here to the Canadian border, with the obvious exception of the major cities, looks much the same. Just beyond the Canadian border, the roadway connects to Manitoba Highway 75; that province’s capital city of Winnipeg is roughly 40 miles (64 km) north of the border.

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