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WEST End of NE 2 (EAST segment), Interchange, US 77, Lincoln NE, Lancaster County NE

Facing west on 2

Facing west on 2

With the completion of Interstate 80, NE 2 was cut in half instead of keeping its long multiplexes from Grand Island to Lincoln via US 34, NE 15, and US 6. The western segment now runs from I-80 southeast of Grand Island northwest past Alliance, where it heads north on a now-redundant multiplex with NE 71 to become SD 71. Even so, four of the five largest cities on the combined segments are in Nebraska - Lincoln, Grand Island, Alliance, and Nebraska City (Fort Madison is No. 3).

WEST End: Nebraska state line, Nebraska City NE, Fremont County IA/Otoe County NE

Facing west on 2

West of I-29, IA 2 is a four-lane road, primarily because using NE 2 shaves 40 miles off the trip to Lincoln or Kansas City for those on 29, instead of going through Omaha. This bridge, done in tandem with a bypass of Nebraska City, is farther south than the original route. The switch happened in 1986.

Facing east on 2

Photo by Neil Bratney

Neil says that 2 is Nebraska's longest highway and Iowa's shortest cross-state highway. (However, the westernmost 58 miles of NE 2 are redundantly multiplexed and north-south on what is mainly a northwest-southeast highway.) The small green sign reads "MISSOURI RIVER". The first part of 2 in Iowa can be seen in the background.

Photo by Neil Bratney

The bridge is high enough to let commercial river traffic under it.

Facing east on 2

Facing east on 2, first sign after bridge

Photo by Neil Bratney

Old WEST End: Nebraska state line, Nebraska City NE, Fremont County IA/Otoe County NE

Facing east from Nebraska; highway bridge is on left

Library of Congress photo

The original bridge for what today is IA 2 opened with great fanfare on October 17, 1930, as a toll bridge at the west end of IA 3. Prior to that, the two nearest bridges to the north were the toll bridge at Plattsmouth and the Douglas Street bridge in Omaha; the nearest bridge to the south was US 36 at St. Joseph. (What is now the US 136 bridge didn't open until the late 1930s, and the US 159 bridge didn't open until November 1939.) Fifty-six years later, give or take a month, the present bridge opened. The bridge in the opposite corner of the state, IA 9 at Lansing, opened exactly eight monts later and has now been used for 67 years (closed for 12).

Facing west, underside of railroad bridge (left) and highway bridge (right)

Library of Congress photo

The photo below was taken in approximately the same spot, as you can see by the silos:

Facing west on 2

Facing east on 2

The old pavement for 2 remains on the Iowa side, along with a building that was a truck stop/gas station.

Surrounding area information: I-29 exit 10

Facing west on 2

In addition to the Burger King in the Middle of Nowhere (old IA 105 at I-35), and the Arby's in the Middle of Nowhere (IA 14 at US 20), add the Wendy's in the Middle of Nowhere, part of the small cluster of businesses (and Iowa Welcome Center) in the northwest corner of the interchange.

Facing west on 2

The expressway begins right at the interchange. The stretch west of 29 is the only standalone portion of 2 that is four lanes.

Facing north on 29

This BGS has (another) different style of signing a city across the Missouri River from I-29 than other exits. At IA 370, it's "Bellevue" without a state identifier; at US 30, it's "Blair Nebraska" spelled out; at IA 175, it's "Decatur Neb"; here, though "Nebraska City" is the city's name, it's abbreviated.

EAST End: Toll bridge, Illinois state line, Fort Madison, Lee County IA/Hancock County IL

Facing east on 2, but heading north on 61

Although the "End 2" sign is before the foot of the Iowa side of the bridge, the DOT considers the bridge part of 2. By comparison, the "End" sign for IA 9 is right at the foot of the bridge into Wisconsin.

Sign assembly in background of above picture / Closeup

Left photo by Jason Hancock

Although the DOT does an excellent job of directing to the highways on the Illinois side, it could put up a shield for 2 with a diagonal right arrow to send it to the bridge. At left is an Iowa Welcome Center.

Photo by Jason Hancock

It would be more accurate - or at least closer to accurate - for the "End 2" to go on that telephone pole.

In 1977, not counting the three interstates, of the 12 bridges across the Mississippi River, all but three (IA 9, US 18, and US 20) were toll. Today, this is the only bridge that still charges passage. (Jason Hancock says this bridge is owned by the BNSF railroad. The US 67 bridge was toll until 2003.)

Another view of the bridge entry

The place where IA 2 crosses the state line is about where the Sullivan Line, which forms Iowa's southern border west of the Des Moines River, meets the Iowa-Illinois line in the Mississippi River.

Facing northwest

This signs for bridge travelers is across the street.

Facing south on 61

The black SUV has just entered Iowa on IL 9/IA 2. In 2002, these signs were on a wooden pole. After paying the toll and crossing the bridge, you start on IL 9.

Facing west on 9

Like IA 9, IL 9 goes border to border with a river crossing on one end just after it intersects another state highway. (Though in IA 9's case, the intersection is much closer.)

Facing east on 9

In the background is the junction with IL 96.

Facing east on 9

Notice how the "9" on the right has a very extended oval. It could be in Series E font.

Facing north on 96

Pictures by Neil Bratney: Second, third, and fifth, 4/20/02

Pictures by Jason Hancock: 14th and 16th, 3/31/02

Pictures by Library of Congress: Sixth and seventh, August 1984

Pictures by me: First, fourth, and eighth-twelfth, 6/12/06; 13th, 15th, 18th, and 20th-24th, 12/18/06; 17th and 19th, 10/21/05

Page created 5/8/02; last updated 8/26/07

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