Ottumwa highway chronology

These maps show the highway evolution in the city of Ottumwa and the immediate area. US highways are in red, state highways in purple, business routes in green, and four-lane limited-access highways in thicker lines. The Des Moines River runs from middle left to bottom right; downtown Ottumwa is just north of the river along Main Street.

NOTE 1: Between July 1, 1920, and October 16, 1926, these routes were east-west IA 8 (Blue Grass Route, Council Bluffs to Burlington) and north-south IA 13 (Missouri state line to McGregor).
NOTE 2:
No reliable data has been found for alignments prior to 1928. This is based on a map in Iowa Highway Commission files from 1929.
Vine Street northeastbound: Eastbound 34, northbound 63

May 28, 1936: Jefferson Street viaduct opens; US 34 and 63 are rerouted away from Vine Street onto alignments that use the new viaduct approved in December 1934.
June 22, 1937: IA 15 commissioned

Jefferson Street northeastbound: Eastbound 34, northbound 63

1942 or 1943: IA 380 created to serve Ottumwa Naval Air Station (later Ottumwa Industrial Airport). The end of the highway is at the airfield's entrance, just above the top border of this map.
June 11, 1954: Two-mile segment of new 34 opens, from a point just west of the future Business 34 intersection halfway to Albia. This segment is the fourth piece of rural four-lane highway to open in Iowa, although it has a narrow median.
September 1955: Realigned two-lane 2.5-mile segment opens between the east end of the four-lane and Albia.

September 24, 1957, was a big day in the Ottumwa Courier. First, there was the big national news - "Ike Calls Out Troops For Little Rock" (federalizing the National Guard to integrate a school). Then, right underneath, a photo of the new US 63, which opened from 4th to Court that day. (Trucks would soon be told to use the old route to avoid two turns and clogging up Main Street.) Finally, at the bottom of the page, "Interstate Highway Marking Plans Are Told." The official numbers of 29, 35, and 80 were announced as roads for Iowa, with the note that more numbers would be needed in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and the Quad Cities.

While 63 is still on Court Street north of the new segment (the curvy part), between that intersection and downtown it is four lanes with no street designation and a narrow median, which did have grass until the mid-2000s.

November 1958: The 1955 segment to Albia gets two more lanes. The map below shows the end of the year.

NOTE: US 63 uses pair of one-ways on Main/2nd.

Jefferson Street northeastbound: Eastbound 34, northbound 63

The 1960s were decidedly Ottumwa's decade for highway construction. Included in this was a project to straighten the Des Moines River's course and create an oxbow lake; the Wapello Street viaduct crosses this new part of the river.

October 15, 1962: US 34 realigned on far west edge of Ottumwa as part of project west to Albia
1963: 63 four-laned from north end of new segment northward to golf course on north side of town
July 9, 1964: US 34 realigned west of future interchange at Church/Jefferson streets
September 4, 1964: Wapello Street viaduct opens; US 63 rerouted onto it and duplexed with 34 on the four-lane in the reverse direction (now west/north and east/south). Jefferson Street now only carries 34 across the river.
Also in 1964: IA 15 broken up into one-ways on 2nd and Main; traffic on 63/23 connect via a ramp system since the intersection is at the north end of the viaduct.
September 2, 1966: US 63 moved from Madison Avenue south of Church Street to a new road just east of Madison, including completed Church/Jefferson interchange and interchange at Vine Street. Myrtle Street now serves as a frontage road connecting ramps at Church and Jefferson; Cook Street serves as the westbound counterpart. However, the speed limit on this road is only 45 MPH.
December 12, 1967: New 34 east opens between new "mixermaster" intersection with 63 and Roemer Avenue, lengthening duplex and taking 34 off Jefferson Street; Business 34 created. The alignments of 34 and 63 in Ottumwa will not change again for 39 years.

NOTE: Southeastward travel on the duplex is eastbound 34, southbound 63

January 1, 1969: IA 15 changed to IA 23
1971: IA 380 renumbered to IA 389
1978 (according to paving records): 63 four-lane extended northward a little more than 1 mile from the previous north end to just north of IA 389
July 16, 1997: US 63 realigned between Oskaloosa and Ottumwa, including a new four-lane segment from near Chillicothe to old 63 north of Ottumwa; IA 149 extended southward; IA 23 and 389 decommissioned

NOTE: Southeastward travel on the duplex is eastbound 34, southbound 63

July 1, 2003: IA 958 decommissioned
October 2006: New two-lane US 34 opens on new alignment from Roemer Avenue eastward to Agency; 1954 four-lane reworked into two-lane frontage road.
November 8, 2006: New "roundabout" at south 34/63 junction fully open to traffic.
November 29, 2006: Other two lanes open on new segment of 34, completing new four-lane alignment from Ottumwa to Fairfield with bypasses of Agency and Batavia
2007: Business 34's western segment moved to Quincy Avenue, shortening distance on Albia Road; signage does not change all at once
November 19, 2007: US 63 bypass opens; IA 149 extended; Business 63 created. New 34/63 duplex reverses the direction-reverse that happened in 1964 (changing to west/south and east/north).

NOTE: Duplex from roundabout to new interchange is eastbound 34, northbound 63

End 149: Wapello Street at US 34

Maps on this page © Jeff Morrison 2007

Page created 10/28/07

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