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NORTH End (1969-2002): Diamond interchange, I-35 exit 68, Polk County

NORTH End (2002-present): Flyover ramp interchange, I-35 exit 68, West Des Moines, Polk County

Pictures below chart the transformation (and remnants) of IA 5 from a two-lane on Army Post Road to part of a new beltway around Des Moines. The new interchange is not a triangle, but more like a T with flyover ramps. Only recently did West Des Moines annex land south of the Raccoon River and Walnut Woods Drive. Pictures work west on Army Post and then west on the freeway.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5 (Army Post Road)

This is the only mile marker left on Army Post Road west of US 69. West Des Moines has resurfaced the entire route west of 63rd/1st Street. This is west of the 42nd Street bridge. (Unlike the other western suburbs, West Des Moines does not follow the Des Moines/Polk County system, so you have to add about 62 to the number. In other words, WDM's 42nd Street is Des Moines' 104th Street.) I-35 is in the deep background.

The new interchange can be seen at the left of this picture. The hill/bridge at top left is the ramp to southbound I-35.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5 (Army Post)

There was a little bit of median separation on old 5 at the interchange. I believe the road at right is the very beginning of the onramp to northbound I-35 because 5 angled slightly southwest here. The interstate runs across the photo at the top of the hill.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5

The right picture is at the South 35th Street bridge, which was Southwest 96th Court before West Des Moines annexed the land. The sign on the left migrated from the gantry in the background, and you can see it there below. I think this is the southernmost mention of Minneapolis on BGSs in Iowa.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5 (October 2002)

Photo by Jason Hancock

Old photo: The middle sign is now on the bridge to the east (see above picture)

Facing west, but heading north, on 5 (December 2002) (pre-42nd St. bridge)

Photo by Jason Hancock

The sign got replaced, yet the new one wasn't made to match up in size. Go figure. This picture shows the bridges in the background better than the one below, which includes a different bridge.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5

You might have noticed that although facing west, the north exit is on the south side and the south exit leaves first. That's due to the design of the interchange. Notice how the bridge angles down a lot as it crosses 5. There is now an additional arrow on the Minneapolis sign, angling down left.

Facing west, but heading north, on 5 (August 2001)

Photo by Jason Hancock

Old photo: Taken before the freeway was finished and this gantry was moved back

Onramp onto northbound 35

Once the freeway was completed Iowa 5 was removed completely from Army Post and a duplex with IA 28. The 2002 state map (Des Moines inset) splits this interchange into two parts. As an interesting side note, 5's first county entries are like this now: Polk, Warren, Polk, Warren. The second trip into Polk County is part of a wrong-way multiplex with US 65.

Facing north on 35 (May 2001)

Photo by Jason Hancock

Old photo: By the bridges, you can tell this is not the same place as below.

Facing north on 35 (August 2001)

Photo by Jason Hancock

By January 2003 there was a little square airplane sign on the left side of the sign across from the exit tab.

Facing south on 35

Photo by Jason Hancock

This interchange was the east end of the last version of IA 90.

Facing south on 35 (December 2001)

BGS reads "Des Moines Intl Airport", just like the NB sign read earlier. The new offramp with new BGS is now in use, while the then-current one has been removed (see below).

Facing south on 35 (September 2002)

Photo by Neil Bratney

Facing south on 35 (May 2004)

Photo by Jason Hancock

Now there is a length of dedicated lane for the IA 5 exit.


Suggested gantry at the IA 5/US 65 interchange near Carlisle

As construction on the Des Moines beltway progressed, it seems to have gone unnoticed that while it may be referred to as "the bypass" or "the beltway" in passing, the whole route doesn't have a uniform number. Not only that, but because of the routes involved, the mileage counts up in different directions and we have a wrong-way multiplex, going north and south on two routes at the same time. Occasionally, this results in incorrect naming of various parts of the four-lane around Des Moines.

To my knowledge, there was never any pursuit of an interstate designation for the beltway, instead relying on "relocating" parts of US 65 and IA 5. This may be the result of a combination of things: 1) Keeping the bridge across the Des Moines River accessible to vehicles traveling less than 40 MPH; 2) Piecemeal relocations of the routes anyway as old segments (of IA 5) were taken off the rolls; 3) Differences in construction guidelines of an interstate as opposed to a four-lane freeway, most notably paved vs. gravel shoulders.

So we can't have an Interstate 435. Why can't the DOT commission a state route with that number?? After all, until 2003 we had an IA 428. This could solve many of the mistakes made when trying to refer to this route, and provide continuity to boot. The interstate-based number would provide a smooth transition should it ever happen, much like metro St. Louis' MO 370. (And Wichita seems to do just fine with 135/235, ditto Omaha with 480/680.) Also after all, given that IA 27 was concurrently slapped onto long, long stretches of US 218 and I-380, the real question is, why not? Truncate IA 5 at the Carlisle exit and commission an IA 435 that starts (with Exit Zero, please, or at least don't call it Exit 1) at I-35, heads east to US 65, and continues north to I-80. With this, it's also possible that US 65 could be put back on Hubbell Avenue with US 6 from that exit and remove the somewhat awkward duplex with I-80 (65 crossing a diagonal that it later rejoins/leaving a diagonal that it then crosses over). The mile markers and exit numbers along the south part of the beltway would have to be redone, but since that's the newest piece of the road, and no one's really using those numbers anyway right now, it's the PERFECT time to do it!

To the IA 5 South end

Jason Hancock's beltway photo gallery (mostly same pictures, different crops)

Pictures by Jason Hancock: Sixth, 10/13/02; seventh, December 2002; ninth and twelfth, August 2001; eleventh, May 2001; thirteenth, 7/20/02; sixteenth, 5/31/04

Fifteenth picture by Neil Bratney: 9/2/02

Pictures by me: First-third and tenth, 8/6/04; fourth, fifth, and eighth, 10/21/07; fourteenth, 12/24/01

Page created 1/5/02; split 11/6/05; last updated 2/25/08

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