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Interstate 580 from Interstate 5 west to California State Route 13

This past year I drove Interstate 580 west from I-5 over Altamont Pass to California State Route 13 in Oakland.


The current route of I-580 is 76 miles long and is one of the most important freeways in California.  I-580 westbound stretches from I-5 in San Joaquin County west over Altamont Pass in Alameda County to I-80 in Oakland and over San Francisco Bay to US 101 in San Rafael of Marin County.  The route of I-580 occupies a historic corridor that carried highways such as; El Camino Viejo, Lincoln Highway, US Route 48 and US Route. I-580 even was meant to be one of the primary components to what would have been I-5W.



Part 1; the history of transportation over Altamont Pass and lead up to Interstate 580

The first major highway over the present general corridor of I-580 was El Camino Viejo.  The El Camino Viejo was an inland alternate route to the Spanish Missions between Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay that was in common usage by the 1780s.  The route of the El Camino Viejo from Los Angeles traveled north through San Francisquito Canyon, Antelope Valley, Cuddy Canyon and San Emigdio to reach San Joaquin Valley.  The El Camino Viejo in San Joaquin Valley followed the west shores of Tulare Lake and the San Joaquin River close to modern day Tracy where it picked up what is the general vicinity of the I-580 corridor.  Rather than using Altamont Pass the route of the El Camino Viejo traveled west from modern day Tracy via Corral Hollow Pass to what is now Livermore.  The route of Corral Hollow Pass has been incorporated into Signed County Route J2.

The first real  automotive highway on the corridor of I-580 was Legislative Route Number 5.  LRN 5 occupied the current I-580 corridor from Tracy westward to downtown Oakland.  What became LRN 5 was part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act routes which were approved by California voters in 1910.

CAhighways.org; Highway Chronology Chapter 1

The first signed highway on the I-580 corridor from Tracy west to Oakland was the Lincoln Highway by 1913.  The Lincoln Highway essentially was located on LRN 5 which ascended over the Diablo Range via Altamont Pass on Altamont Pass Road.  The Lincoln Highway was present on the route over Altamont Pass until 1928 when it was shifted alongside US 40 over the original Carquinez Bridge.  The 1920 California/Nevada Clauson Highway Map shows the Lincoln Highway when it was routed over the I-580 corridor from Tracy to Oakland.

1920 California/Nevada Highway Map 


Much of the early history of the Lincoln Highway over Altamont Pass can be found on this Gribblenation article below:

Hunting the early Lincoln Highway and US Route 48 from French Camp west over Altamont Pass

By late 1926 the US Route system was created and the corridor of I-580 from Tracy west to Hayward became part of US Route 48.  Originally US 48 traveled south from Hayward to San Jose which left only the Lincoln Highway to depart northwest on LRN 5 to Oakland.  In 1929 US 101 was split into East/West branches around San Francisco Bay and US 101E was assigned to LRN 5 from Oakland to Hayward on the corridor of I-580.  Like the Lincoln Highway US 48 utilized Altamont Pass Road to cross the Diablo Range.  US 101E and US 48 can be seen on the current I-580 corridor between Tracy and Oakland on the 1930 Division of Highways Map.

1930 Division of Highways Map 


The 8th Biennial Report of the Division of Highways from November 1932 identified US 50 being extended from Sacramento all the way west to Oakland where it terminated at US 40 along what is now MacArthur Boulevard and San Pablo Avenue.



The western extension of US 50 occupied the corridor of I-580 from Tracy west to Oakland which can be seen on the 1936 Division of Highways Map.

1936 Division of Highways Map


On August 4th, 1938 the path of US 50 over Altamont Pass via New Altamont Pass Road opened to the public.  The opening event and new alignment of US 50 is covered extensively in the September 1938 California Highways and Public Works Guide.  Today the route of the New Altamont Pass Road carries the eastbound lanes of I-580.














The Western Pacific Rail Overpass mentioned above appears much as it did in 1938 from I-580 east.


Up close "Western Pacific" can still be seen on a stencil from I-580 eastbound.


The current route of I-580 from I-5 west to I-80 in Oakland was originally slated to be I-5W.   Specifically the corridor of US 50 was selected to become I-5W in the 1947 version of the Interstate Highway system which ultimately never was built.  The present Interstate Highway system was approved by 1958.  I-5 was to run through Central California with the I-5E spur following the corridor of US 99 and I-5W following the corridor below:

-  Modern CA 132 west to I-580.
-  Modern I-580 west to I-80.
-  Modern I-80 east to I-505.
-  Modern I-505 to I-5.

The present route of I-580 from CA 132 west to I-205 was added to the State Highway system in 1957 as an extension of LRN 110 by the State Legislature according to CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 110

Since CA 132 west of US 99 was meant to become part of I-5W the route of LRN 110 became from it's west terminus and met US 50 in Tracy.  This can be seen on the 1958 State Division of Highways Map.

1958 Division of Highways Map 


By 1959 the State Legislature approved widening LRN 110 into a bypass of Tracy which is when the final planned route of I-580 from I-5 to I-205 took form.  This can be seen on the 1960 Division of Highways Map.

1960 Division of Highways Map 


What ultimately prevented I-580 from current I-5 west to I-80 becoming I-5W was likely the 1964 State Highway renumbering which discontinued the use of suffixed routes.  The present number of I-580 appears as a Legislative Route Number alongside US 50 between Tracy and Oakland on the 1964 Division of Highways Map.

1964 State Highway Map 


I-5W was definitely signed in-field along the current corridor I-580 between Tracy and Oakland as evidenced by this photo from the July/August 1962 California Division of Highways Guide.  The photo shows I-5W on the current MacArthur/I-580 freeway near Broadway in Oakland. 


The July/August 1962 California Division of Highways Guide also has an extensive article about the MacAuthur Freeway opening.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on May 15th, 1962 to celebrate the completion of a 2.6 mile section of I-5W/US 50 opening in Oakland between what is now I-80 and Grand Avenue.















Prior to 1964 I-5 is shown splitting into I-5W/I-5E near Tracy on some commercial maps.  This map below is dated from 1963 and shows I-5W/US 50 multiplexed over Altamont Pass towards CA 21.


I-580 is shown partially complete between what would become I-5 and I-205 on the 1966 Division of Highways Map.

1966 Division of Highways Map 


I-580 appears signed in segments between I-5 and Oakland on the 1967 Division of Highways Map.

1967 Division of Highways Map 


I-580 is shown complete between I-5 and I-205 on the 1969 Division of Highways Map.

1969 Division of Highways Map 


The completed route of I-580 from I-5 west to I-80 appears between the 1970 Division of Highways Map and 1975 Caltrans Maps.  Note; the I-5 south overpass of I-580 shows a completion date of 1971.

1970 Division of Highways Map


1975 Caltrans Highway Map 


By 1984 the route of I-580 was extended over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge which was former CA 17 to US 101.  The history of that particular segment of I-580 can be found on my previous blog.

November Bay Area Trip Part 4; Richmond-San Rafael Bridge/I-580


Part 2; a drive on Interstate 580 west from I-5 to CA 13

This November I approached I-580 westbound from I-5 north near Tracy in San Joaquin County.   I-580 westbound splits from I-5 north via the left hand lanes.





I-580 west of I-5 is signed as the W.E. "Brownie" Brown Freeway.


At I-580 west Exit 76 there is signed access to CA 132 via Chrisman Road.






I-580 west passes under CA 132 and traffic is advised San Francisco is 67 miles away.




At Exit 72 I-580 westbound accesses Signed County Route J2 via Corral Hollow Road.




Patterson Pass Road is accessible from I-580 westbound Exit 67.




I-580 westbound doesn't access I-205 eastbound directly.  I-580 westbound traffic is advised to utilize the truck bypass lanes at Exit 63 for Grant Line Road.   I-580 westbound ascends over the eastbound lanes of I-205 eastbound and converges into the flow of traffic of I-205 westbound out of Tracy.









I-580 west of I-205 enters Alameda County and begins to climb to the Diablo Range to Altamont Pass.  These photos of I-580 westbound were taken during the winter of 2019 which is why the terrain is far greener. 



I-580 west of I-205 is signed as 11 miles from Livermore and 43 miles from Oakland.



I-580 ascends a massive grade west of I-205 to the 1,009 foot Altamont Pass.  Altamont Pass has a massive wind farm which usually is quite active despite the low elevation in the Diablo Range.




















The Lincoln Highway, US 48 and US 50 used a lower route to the north on Altamont Pass Road.   Altamont Pass Road has a peak elevation of 741 feet which is considerably mild by California Standards.  The original alignment of the Lincoln Highway, US 48 and US 50 over Altamont Pass can be seen on the 1935 California Division Highways Maps of San Joaquin County and Alameda County.

1935 Division of Highways Map of San Joaquin County


1935 Division of Highways Map of Alameda County


I-580 west on Altamont Pass is signed as the "CHP Officer John P Miller Memorial Highway."


I-580 west descends Alamont Pass into Livermore.












I-580 west has express toll lanes starting in Livermore.


I-580 west has plenty of button-copy shields still present on BGSs.


I-580 west meets CA 84 in Livermore at Exit 51/Isabel Avenue.





I-580 west enters Dublin approaching I-680.


I-580 west accesses I-680 via Exit 44B.





I-580 west is signed as being 7.5 miles away from Castro Valley at the I-680 junction.


I-580 west begins to ascend Hayward Pass alongside a Bay Area Rapid Transit line in the freeway median.  Oakland is signed as being 23 miles to the west.



As I-580 west descends from Hayward Pass it passes by several mountain side roadways and local parks.







I-580 west enters Castro Valley and meets Castro Valley Boulevard at Exit 37.  Castro Valley Boulevard is the former surface alignment of the Lincoln Highway, US 48 and US 50.





I-580 west truck traffic is advised to take I-238 west to I-880 to reach Oakland.  I-580 west meets I-238 at Exit 34.








I-580 west from I-238 to I-80 in Oakland is known as the MacArthur Freeway.   I-580 west first passes through San Leandro before entering Oakland.  Exit 29 is signed as access to the Oakland Coliseum and Oakland International Aiport.




At Exit 26A the route of I-580 west meets the CA 13 Warren Freeway.







 At Coolidge Avenue there is access to Peralta Hacienda Historical Park.




There are several important junctions along I-580 west in downtown Oakland.  At Exit 21A there is access to former US 50 on MacArthur Boulevard.  At Exit 19C accesses CA 24 east and at Exit 19D there is access to I-980 west.   At Exit 19B there is access to former US 40 on San Pablo Avenue.








Exit 19A accesses I-80 west onto the Bay Bridge headed towards San Francisco.  I-580 west jumps onto a wrong-way concurrency with I-80 east.




I-580 west/I-80 east enters Emeryville.


There is a fairly unique VMS showing times to major highways on I-580 west/I-80 east in Emeryville.


Exit numbering on I-580 west/I-80 east follows the mileage of I-80.  At Exit 10 I-580 west/I-80 east meets CA 13 at Ashby Avenue.  CA 13 on Ashby Avenue was the original alignment of CA 24.  I pulled off the Interstate from here to head towards former US 40 on CA 123/San Pablo Avenue.


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