Can You Name The Shortest Interstate Highway In Washington State?

Have you ever seen the movie Toy Story 2 where the toy owner literally drives across the street from his apartment to his toy store? You could almost say driving the nation's shortest interstate highway is like that right here in Washington State.

By Eric Stuve from Oklahoma City, OK - DSC03722Uploaded by admrboltz, CC BY-SA 2.0,
By Eric Stuve from Oklahoma City, OK - DSC03722Uploaded by admrboltz, CC BY-SA 2.0,

How Short Is Washington State's Most Famous Interstate Highway? Five Fun Facts

The freeway starts and ends so quickly that you might not even know you're on it until the trip is long over. I thought we'd have some fun and give you five fun facts about the shortest interstate highway in Washington State.

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Washington State has its fair share of scenic highways and winding roads, but have you ever thought about the shortest interstate highway?

getty images
getty images

Interstate 705 (I-705) is Washington State's shortest interstate highway, measuring only 1.5 miles in length. Its nickname is the Tacoma Spur and you'll find the highway as it connects the freeway to Downtown Tacoma, Tacoma's waterfront, North Tacoma, and the Tacoma Dome.

The story begins in the 1960s when the opening of I-5 caused a slowdown of traffic going to downtown Tacoma to shop at retail stores.

The retailers asked the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to find a better way to connect Downtown Tacoma to I-5

In 1968, the Department of Highways adopted the routing of a freeway into Downtown Tacoma along the western side of the City Waterway, to be constructed over railroad right of way according to Wikipedia.

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

The federal government wanted to designate the new highway "105" but Washington State officials asked that the name be I-705 so as to not interfere with previously numbered Washington State highways.

Close up of a car standing on a breakdown lane, summer vacation
Patrick Daxenbichler

It took some time to get the actual roadwork done and in 1979, The Washington State Legislature approved the addition of I-705 into the state highway system but the actual highway didn't open up until 1993 --- that's a long time for planning to execution no doubt

Here are five fun facts about Washington State's shortest interstate highway:

  1. I-705 is the shortest two-digit interstate highway in the entire United States.
  2. The highway was constructed in the 1970s as a downtown bypass route for I-5, which runs through Tacoma's central business district.
  3. I-705 includes an elevated section that passes over Pacific Avenue and provides a scenic view of downtown Tacoma and Commencement Bay.
  4. The highway runs through the historic Stadium District of Tacoma.
  5. I-705 is the only interstate highway in the United States that is entirely located within the boundaries of a single city.

Washington State's shortest interstate may not be the longest but its story is a fascinating one. I-705 has a unique place in the state's highway history.

semi tractor trailer driving on the highway in the evening

Next time you find yourself driving through Tacoma, take a moment to appreciate the quirks of this tiny interstate as it truly is a Washington State original.

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