Interstate 85 in Georgia

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This article is about the current Interstate Highway. For the current state highway, see Georgia State Route 85.
This article is about the section of Interstate 85 in Georgia. For the entire route, see Interstate 85.

Interstate 85 marker

Interstate 85
Route information
Maintained by Georgia DOT
Length: 179.9 mi[1] (289.5 km)
Major junctions
South end: I‑85 at the Alabama state line
  I‑185 near LaGrange
I‑285 in College Park
I‑75 in Atlanta
I‑20 in Atlanta
I‑75 in Atlanta
SR 400 in Atlanta
I‑285 near Doraville
SR 316 near Lawrenceville
I‑985 in Suwanee
North end: I-85 at the South Carolina state line
Counties: Harris, Troup, Meriwether, Coweta, Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Banks, Franklin, Hart
Highway system
  • Georgia State Routes
SR 402 Georgia 403.svg SR 404

Interstate 85 (I-85) is a major Interstate Highway that runs northeast–southwest in the U.S. state of Georgia. It exists from the Alabama border near West Point, and Lanett, Alabama, running through Metropolitan Atlanta, and traveling to the border with South Carolina, where it crosses the Savannah River near Lake Hartwell. I-85 connects northern Georgia with Montgomery, Alabama to the southwest, and with South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia to the northeast. Within Georgia, Interstate 85 is also designated as the unsigned State Route 403 (SR 403).

Interstate 85 in Georgia usually runs roughly parallel with the route of U.S. Highway 29. However, from Atlanta northeast to South Carolina, I-85 ventures away from that route, running about half-way between U.S. 29 and the combination of U.S. Highway 23 and U.S. Highway 123.

Within the City of Atlanta, Interstate 85 has a concurrency with Interstate 75 known as the "Downtown Connector".

Route description[edit]

Alabama state line to Interstate 185[edit]

Interstate 85 undergoing repairs near the Alabama state line

Interstate 85 enters Georgia from Alabama via twin bridges over the Chattahoochee River, and then it immediately skirts the town of West Point, with Kia's multi-billion dollar plant located adjacent to the freeway just east of West Point. After leaving West Point, I-85 enters the LaGrange area, the first large town in Georgia on its route to the northeast. Northeast of LaGrange, I-85 has an interchange with the long spur freeway, Interstate 185, to the Columbus, Georgia Metropolitan Area. This is the only connection between Columbus and the Interstate Highway System.

From Interstate 185 through Atlanta[edit]

From LaGrange, I-85 heads northeastward towards Atlanta. Before reaching Atlanta, the highway drives through a recently widened stretch that includes 6 to 8 lanes between exit 35 to exit 77, passing near the suburbs of Moreland, Newnan, Fairburn, Union City, College Park and East Point as well as intersecting Interstate 285 at its southwest end and providing access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I-85 then runs along the northwestern boundary of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (This airport is bounded on all sides by I-85, I-75, and I-285, all of which provide highway access to the airport.)

At the southwestern edge of Atlanta's city limits, I-85 merges with Interstate 75 to form the Downtown Connector, which is 12 to 14 lanes wide. At the southern edge of downtown Atlanta, this freeway has an interchange with the major east-west Interstate Highway, Interstate 20. The two freeways then skirt the eastern edge of downtown, running due north, passing through the Georgia Tech campus and Atlantic Station before the two highways split, with I-75 exits via the right three lanes and then heads northwest while I-85 uses the left three lanes and then heads northeast.

I-75 and I-85 signs near downtown Atlanta

Atlanta to South Carolina state line[edit]

Heading northbound after the Brookwood Interchange with I-75, I-85 is routed along a ten lane wide viaduct from the Buford Highway Connector (Exit 86) to Georgia 400 (Exit 87). Continuing northeast of Atlanta, Interstate 85 continues through the northeastern suburbs, bypassing Chamblee and Doraville, where there is another intersection with I-285 (nicknamed Spaghetti Junction). The interstate then travels through the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta, including Lilburn, Duluth, Lawrenceville. The Interstate has freeway interchanges with Georgia 316 in Norcross and Interstate 985 in Suwanee, which provides a link to Gainesville. Interstate 85 then leaves the Atlanta area, continuing to travel through rural northeast Georgia. At Lake Hartwell - which was formed by the damming of the Savannah River - I-85 crosses into South Carolina.

Express Lanes[edit]

Interstate 85 has the first and currently the only express/HOT lanes in Georgia, located in Gwinnett and Dekalb counties; they were originally HOV lanes. From Chamblee-Tucker Road (exit 94) to Old Peachtree Road (exit 109); travelers that utilize the converted 15.5-mile (24.9 km) lanes will be charged a toll varying from 10 to 90 cents per mile (6.2–55.9 ¢/km), depending on traffic conditions and usage. Though not signed on the freeway, they are HOT lanes, which means travelers with three or more occupants, vanpools, motorcycles, and buses are exempt from toll charges. Tolls are collected using an electronic toll collection system. All travelers that use the lane must have a Peach Pass sticker to avoid fines.[2][3] Starting in November 2014, SunPass (Florida) and NC Quick Pass (North Carolina) are interoperable with Peach Pass, allowing motorists with those transponders to use the express lanes.

Funds generated from the express lanes will be used to defray the costs of construction, operations and maintenance of the lanes. Long term revenue allocation is being studied and a decision about future excess revenues will be made later in the project process.[4]

Proponents for the express lanes say it is to provide commuters with a more reliable, free-flow commute option; complement the state’s multi-modal approach to managing traffic demand; and establish the vision for a future system of HOT lanes in the region.[2] Detractors point out that existing infrastructure was reused for the express lanes and that commute times on the non-paying travel lanes have doubled since implementation.[5][6]

Auxiliary routes[edit]


Interstate 75 co-signed with Interstate 85 in downtown Atlanta

Originally constructed as a four to six lane expressway in the 1950s, the stretch of I-85 between the southern merge with I-75 and North Druid Hills Road was reconstructed as part of the Georgia Department of Transportation's Freeing the Freeways program. This project included rebuilding all overpasses, new HOV-ready ramps (with the system implemented in 1996), and a widening of freeway capacity. Concurrent with this project was the construction of the Civic Center MARTA Station as part of the West Peachtree Street overpass, which opened in December 1981.

The portion of the highway from the Buford Highway Connector to GA 400 was constructed during the early 1980s, and was designed as a replacement for the original four-lane routing of I-85 (now GA 13). In addition, the new viaduct was designed to accommodate connections to the Georgia 400 tollway (then in planning), HOV lanes, and a bridge carrying the MARTA North Line (then under construction).[7]

Until 2000, the state of Georgia used the sequential interchange numbering system on all of its Interstate Highways. The first exit on each highway would begin with the number "1" and increase numerically with each exit. In 2000, the Georgia Department of Transportation switched to a mileage-based exit system, in which the exit number corresponded to the nearest milepost.[8][9]

On October 1, 2011, GDOT converted the 16.0-mile (25.7 km) HOV lanes in Northern Atlanta into express/HOT lanes.[2]

From Atlanta, Interstate 85 North was originally slated to be built through the city of Athens to provide an easy link between the capital city and the University of Georgia. However, local opposition from Athens residents and officials prevented this,[citation needed] and the interstate was subsequently built to pass through rural areas approximately 20 miles north of Athens. It was not until the completion of GA 316 in the 1990s that there was finally a relatively quick, multi-lane expressway connecting Athens and Atlanta,[citation needed](US 78 is also multi-lane between Athens and Atlanta but it is not expressway-grade) although GA 316 still is largely at-grade.

Exit list[edit]

County Location mi km Old exit New exit Destinations Notes
Alabama state line 0.0 0.0 I‑85 continues south into Alabama
No major junctions
Troup West Point 1 2 SR 18 – West Point, Pine Mountain
  6 KIA Blvd To Kia Car Plant
  2 13 SR 219 – LaGrange To Pegasus Parkway, an industrial and recreational bypass around downtown LaGrange.
LaGrange 3 14 US 27 / SR 1 – LaGrange SR 1 is unsigned with US 27
4 18 SR 109 – Greenville, Warm Springs
  5 21 I‑185 south – Columbus To Fort Benning
Hogansville 6 28 SR 54 / SR 100 – Hogansville
No major junctions
Coweta Grantville 7 35 US 29 / SR 14 – Grantville, Moreland SR 14 is unsigned with US 29
Newnan 8 41
US 27 Alt. / US 29 / SR 14 – Newnan
To SR 16
9 47 SR 34 – Newnan, Peachtree City To business district
  10 51 SR 154 (McCollum-Sharpsburg Road)
  11 56 Collinsworth Road, Palmetto, Tyrone
Fulton Fairburn 12 61 SR 74 – Fairburn To Peachtree City
Union City 13 64 SR 138 (Jonesboro Road) – Union City, Jonesboro
College Park 14 66 Flat Shoals Road To GMC (Georgia Military College)
  15 68 I‑285 (Atlanta Bypass) – Birmingham, Chattanooga, International Terminal, Macon Northbound exit and southbound entrance; Split into I-285 north (Birmingham, Chattanooga) and I-285 east (International Terminal, Macon)
  16A 69A SR 14 Conn. (South Fulton Parkway)
College Park 16B 69B SR 279 (Old National Highway)
17 70 I‑285 – Macon, Birmingham, Chattanooga Southbound exit and northbound entrance; to Maynard Jackson International Terminal
Clayton   18 71 SR 139 (Riverdale Road) – Domestic Terminals
Fulton College Park 18A 72 Camp Creek Parkway (SR 6) – Air Cargo, Domestic Terminals
East Point 19 73 Virginia Avenue – Air Cargo, College Park Signed as exits 73A (Air Cargo) and 73B (College Park) northbound
20 74 Loop Road – International Terminal Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Hapeville 21 75 Sylvan Road, Central Avenue – Hapeville
Atlanta 22 76 Cleveland Avenue To Atlanta Technical College
23 77 US 19 / US 41 / SR 3 (Metropolitan Parkway) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
24 77 SR 166 (Langford Parkway) Northbound exit and southbound entrance
87 242 I‑75 south – International Terminal, Macon Southern end of I-75 concurrency along the Downtown Connector; freeway uses I-75 mileposts and exit numbers; HOV lanes to and from I-75 to the south (no HOV ramps to or from I-85 to the south)
88 243 SR 166 (Langford Parkway) – East Point
89 244 University Avenue, Pryor Street
90 245 Abernathy Boulevard, Capitol Avenue – Turner Field Northbound exit and southbound entrance
91 246 Fulton Street, Central Avenue – Downtown
92 247 I‑20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway) – Augusta, Birmingham
Memorial Drive HOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
93 248A Martin Luther King Jr. Drive – State Capitol Southbound exit and northbound entrance
94 248B Edgewood Avenue, Auburn Avenue, J.W. Dobbs Avenue Northbound exit and southbound entrance
96 248C SR 10 east (Freedom Parkway) / Andrew Young International Boulevard – Carter Center
95 248D J.W. Dobbs Avenue, Edgewood Avenue Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Piedmont Avenue HOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
97 249A Courtland Street – Georgia State University Southbound exit only
98 249B Pine Street, Peachtree Street – Civic Center Northbound exit only
99 249C Williams Street – Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome No northbound exit; additional HOV ramps for southbound exit and northbound entrance
100 249D Spring Street, West Peachtree Street Northbound exit and southbound entrance
100 249D US 29 / US 78 / US 278 / SR 8 (North Avenue) – Georgia Tech Southbound exit and northbound entrance
101 250 10th Street, 14th Street – Georgia Tech Northbound exit and southbound entrance
251A 17th Street – Midtown Northbound exit only
26 84 17th Street, 14th Street, 10th Street Southbound exit only, to Georgia Tech
27 85 I‑75 north – Marietta, Chattanooga Northern end of I-75 concurrency along the Downtown Connector
28 86 SR 13 north (Buford Highway) Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Lindbergh Drive HOV-only ramps; southbound exit and northbound entrance
29 87 SR 400 north – Buckhead, Cumming Northbound exit and southbound entrance
28 86 SR 400 north / SR 13 south – Buckhead, Cumming, to Peachtree Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance
30 88 Cheshire Bridge Road, Lenox Road Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Dekalb   31 89 SR 42 (North Druid Hills Road) To Oglethorpe University
  32 91 US 23 / SR 155 (Clairmont Road) To DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and Emory University
  33 93 Shallowford Road, Doraville To Briarcliff Road
  34 94 Chamblee-Tucker Road, Mercer University
  35 95 I‑285 – Augusta, Macon, Chattanooga, Birmingham Signed as exits 95A (east – Macon, Augusta) and 95B (west – Chattanooga, Birmingham) southbound
  36 96 Northcrest Road, Pleasantdale Road
Gwinnett Norcross 37 99 SR 140 west (Jimmy Carter Boulevard)
38 101 Indian Trail-Lilburn Road
  39 102 SR 378 (Beaver Ruin Road) – Lilburn
  39A 103 Steve Reynolds Boulevard Northbound exit and southbound entrance
  40 104 Pleasant Hill Road Gwinnett Place Mall
  42 105 SR 120 – Duluth, Lawrenceville Northbound exit only
  41 106 SR 316 east – Lawrenceville, Athens No southbound exit; additional northbound exit and southbound entrance ramps for direct HOT/express lane access
  42 107 SR 120 to SR 316 – Duluth, Lawrenceville Southbound exit only
  108 Sugarloaf Parkway Southbound exit is combined with exit 109
  43 109 Old Peachtree Road
  44 111 SR 317 north – Suwanee
  45 113 I‑985 north – Gainesville Northbound exit and southbound entrance, to Buford Dam and Lake Lanier Islands
  46 115 SR 20 – Lawrenceville, Buford Mall of Georgia
  47 120 Hamilton Mill Road, Hamilton Mill Parkway
Barrow Braselton 48 126 SR 211 – Braselton, Winder
Jackson 49 129 SR 53 – Braselton, Hoschton, Winder
Jefferson 50 137 US 129 / SR 11 – Gainesville, Jefferson
  51 140 SR 82 (Dry Pond Road, Holly Springs Road)
Commerce 52 147 SR 98 – Commerce, Maysville
Banks   53 149 US 441 – Commerce, Homer, Banks Crossing
  54 154 SR 63 (Martin Bridge Road) – Toccoa
Franklin   55 160 SR 51 – Homer, Franklin Springs, Royston, Elberton
  56 164 SR 320 – Carnesville
  57 166 SR 106 / SR 145 – Carnesville, Toccoa
Lavonia 58 173 SR 17 – Lavonia, Toccoa, Elberton
Hart   59 177 SR 77 – Elberton, Hartwell
South Carolina state line 179.9 289.5 I-85 north – Greenville Continuation into South Carolina
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Route Log and Finder List — Interstate System: Table 1". FHWA. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  2. ^ a b c "I-85 Express Lanes". Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  3. ^ "100,000th Peach Pass issued for controversial HOT lanes". Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  4. ^ "I-85 Express Lanes - FAQ". Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  5. ^ "The Marietta Daily Journal - Don McKee: Commuters getting hot about HOT lanes in metro Atlanta". Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  6. ^ "HOT lane unhappiness: Some drivers say congestion worse". Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  7. ^ State Route 13 Page Peach State Roads. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
  8. ^ Georgia's Interstate Exit Numbers Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.
  9. ^ Interstate 20 Exit Renumbering Page Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

Interstate 85
Previous state:
Georgia Next state:
South Carolina