Autoroute 85 is a highway in Quebec that connects Rivière-du-Loup and the Quebec-New Brunswick border. It intertwines with Route 185, but this is slowly changing as sections of the 185 are upgraded to autoroute standards. The reason for these long needed upgrades is partly because Route 185 is infamously known as one of the deadliest roads in Canada and Quebec.
The first section of Autoroute 85 (94 to 100 km) was built in 1972 during the construction of Autoroute 20 and Route 185. The northern half of that portion (86 to 94 km) was built to autoroute standards but was only signed as Route 185. It wasn't until December 9, 2005, when the first portion of the autoroute was extended, rehabilitated, and resigned as Autoroute 85.
Autoroute 85 in Rivière-du-Loup looking North towards the Saint Lawrence River
Although some of the new Autoroute 85 sections have been built at a steady pace since 2006, progress has going almost at a snail's pace, but there are plans by the MTQ for phase 2 of the 85 to be completed by Dec. 2015. Some of these new alignments of the four-lane divided highway are currently in the works, however some of them are proving to be quite a challenge.
Currently, Autoroute 85 begins in Saint-Antonin (87 km) and ends 13 km further north at Autoroute 20 near Notre-Dame-du-Portage (100 km). Two small sections of Route 185 have already been converted into autoroute standards near the areas of Dégelis and Notre-Dame-du-Lac. A stretch of 12.2 km between Cabano-Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! northbound lanes has been open since August 23, 2011, including a 6.4 km section which also has been open to traffic since the fall of 2009. The southbound lanes have been open since August 26, 2011. This puts an end to the phase which was to redevelop sections of Dégelis, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! and Saint Antonin. The section between the New Brunswick border and Cabano (Phase 2) is currently under construction. In 2011, the section between Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! and Saint Antonin (Phase 3) obtained the government order to commence construction.
Once the upgrade of Route 185 is complete, the length will be reduced by more than half of its former length (about 50 km or so). Transport Quebec could also decommission Route 185 in its entirety and rename the former parts to another route number. However, the fact is that Autoroute 85 will sport a complete length from start to finish of about 100 km, and it will connect Route 2 in New Brunswick to Autoroute 20 near Rivière-du-Loup. At the same time, the Trans-Canada Highway will officially become a continuous divided controlled access highway between Arnprior, Ontario (Highway 417) to Sutherland's River, Nova Scotia (Route 104). In addition, if Ontario's Highway 401 is taken to Windsor instead of Highway 417 this will also complete an even longer inter-provincial freeway spanning four provinces, increasing the total divided highway length by more than 2000 km.
Like most other Quebec autoroutes that have been officially designated names from famous deceased members of Quebec politics, the Quebec government and Transport Quebec have dedicated Autoroute 85 in honour of Claude Béchard, a deceased Quebec politician from Kamouraska-Témiscouata.