|Maintained by GDOT|
|Length:||63.98 mi (102.97 km)|
|Existed:||1963 – present|
|Beltway around Atlanta|
|Counties:||Clayton, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb|
Interstate 285 (I-285) is an Interstate Highway loop encircling Atlanta, Georgia, for 63.98 miles (102.97 km). I-285 also carries unsigned State Route 407 (SR 407), and is colloquially referred to as The Perimeter. Suburban sprawl has made it one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the United States, and portions of the highway slow, sometimes to a crawl, during rush hour. It is also signed as Atlanta Bypass on I-75/I-85.
It is estimated that more than two million people use the highway each day, making it the busiest Interstate in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
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I-285 is eight to 12 lanes wide, with the northern part from I-75 to SR 400 to I-85 the most heavily traveled. One segment of the highway near Spaghetti Junction (a large, flyover highway interchange northeast of Atlanta) with I-85 widens to 18 lanes, including collector-distributor lanes. Exits are numbered clockwise, starting at the southwestern-most point at I-85, and ending just east of there where it meets I-85 again near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Between I-85 and I-20 in southwest Fulton County, I-285 is designated as the "Bob A. Holmes Freeway", where I-285 heads north, and has an interchange with the Langford Parkway. Between I-20 in northwest Atlanta and I-75 near Cumberland Mall, it is designated as the James E. 'Billy' McKinney Highway as it continues north, and starts to curve to the east just west of the I-75 interchange.
The northern portion of I-285, east of the "Cobb Cloverleaf" (I-75 interchange) to "Spaghetti Junction" (I-85 interchange), is frequently referred to as the Top End Perimeter. This section, which includes an interchange with SR 400 at exit 27 (frequently cited as the most dangerous intersections in Atlanta), is one of the busiest freeways in the United States, handling about 250,000 cars per day and crossing through three counties. Through that stretch, the freeway expands from six or eight lanes to between ten and fourteen lanes.
Much of Atlanta's high-end commercial real estate has developed along I-285, particularly at the northwestern I-75 and the SR 400 interchanges. Notable buildings include the 35-story King and Queen towers in the Perimeter Center business district and the Cobb Galleria complex in the Cumberland/Galleria area.
East of Spaghetti Junction, I-285's direction switches from east to south, as it connects with the Stone Mountain Freeway at exit 39, and has an interchange with I-20 at exit 46, where I-285 starts to curve towards the southwest. At exit 52, it has an interchange with Interstate 675, and heads straight west after the interchange with I-75 near the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
A portion of the section between I-75 and I-85 on the south side of I-285 has been bridged with a new runway and taxiway of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of only two interstates in the nation (along with I-564 in Norfolk, VA) to have an underpass beneath a runway (underpasses for taxiways do occur elsewhere). Computer animations were developed prior to construction to simulate a jumbo jet touching down on the runway from a driver's perspective. The entire highway within the tunnels is outfitted with stopped-vehicle sensors and fire detectors. Two electronic signs on either side of the tunnels can warn drivers if the tunnel is closed in an emergency. For 1.21 miles (1.95 km) in the southwest corner, I-85 occupies the median of I-285, yet the roadways remain separate.
Heavy trucks traveling through (but not into) Atlanta are required to bypass the city on I-285, as there is a well-signed and heavily enforced ban on through truck traffic along I-75, I-85, I-20, SR 400, and many other major Atlanta thoroughfares. As with highways just outside I-285, trucks are also prohibited from the far-left one or two lanes (except where there are left exits open to trucks).
The complete circumference of I-285 is covered by Georgia NaviGAtor, Georgia's intelligent transportation system (ITS). There have been 153 CCTV traffic cameras, 26 electronic message signs, and traffic-detection sensors installed in phases between 1999 and 2010 by Georgia DOT. Additionally, ramp meters are present at nearly all entrance ramps onto I-285, with the exception of the southeast section of I-285 and the major freeway-to-freeway connection ramps.
To many residents of Atlanta, the Perimeter defines a useful boundary to separate metro Atlanta's core from its surrounding suburbs. People distinguish a location as being inside or outside the Perimeter, sometimes abbreviated as ITP and OTP, a recent local neologism. This was also the rough boundary chosen by BellSouth for separating landline telephone exchanges in suburban area code 770 from the existing area code 404 in 1995.
I-285 was completed and opened in sections, with the entire highway officially opened on October 15, 1969 at a cost of $90 million, as a four-lane freeway throughout (two lanes each way).
The reconstruction of I-285, particularly on the top-end and the Spaghetti Junction reconfiguration (covered by the revive285 project), has cost about $355 million.
Until 2000, the state of Georgia used the sequential interchange numbering system on all of its Interstate highways. The first exit on each highway began 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.
Georgia DOT voted in September 2012 to raise the speed limit from 55 miles per hour (90 km/h) to 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) on the entire freeway, and by 2013 to install electronic signs for variable speed limits north of I-20, to lower the speed limit when traffic or weather conditions warrant. This is intended to keep traffic moving at a reduced but steady speed, rather than suddenly braking drivers causing traffic to "clot" simply because other drivers are also braking (which causes unnecessary stop-and-go traffic).
Since the 1970s, the Georgia Department of Transportation has planned an outer loop, which would be a roughly 230-mile-long (370 km) circumferential loop around metropolitan Atlanta. Under governor Sonny Perdue, the plans were dropped from the Regional Transportation Plan, in favor of the expansion of the rural state road network outside of Atlanta. The state still retains ownership of most of the land that would be needed to complete at least the northern section of the Outer Loop, known as the Northern Arc. As of 2007[update], ideas have been considered to build that highway even further north, through areas that are still rural.
The I-285/SR 400 interchange is slated to be reconfigured with collector/distributor roads along SR 400 and a complete full stack interchange that will make it the largest freeway interchange east of Los Angeles. The new interchange is expected to be able to handle around 300,000 cars per day. Feasibility studies have been completed, and it is in Atlanta's 2025 Regional Transportation Plan.
On July 31, 2012, metro-area voters rejected the T-SPLOST comprehensive transportation plan that was to be funded by an additional one-percent sales tax over a ten-year period. Among the projects included in the plan was a new exit on I-285 at Greenbriar Parkway on the southwest side of Atlanta (between present exits 2 & 5), as well as major reconstruction of interchanges at exits 27 (US 19/SR 400), 10 (I-20 west of Atlanta) and 33 (I-85 northeast of Atlanta).
The following exits are listed clockwise from the southwest: going south to north, west to east, north to south and east to west. An exception is that heading anti-clockwise, exit 33 comes before exit 34.
|County||Location||mi||km||Old exit||New exit||Destinations||Notes|
|Fulton||East Point||2||1||Washington Road|
|3||2||Camp Creek Parkway (SR 6) – Domestic Terminals|
|Atlanta||4||5||SR 154 / SR 166 (Langford Parkway, Campbellton Road)||Signed as exits 5A (north/east) and 5B (south/west)|
|||5||7||Cascade Road||Former SR 154|
|Atlanta||6||9||SR 139 (Martin L King Jr. Drive) – Adamsville|
|7||10||I‑20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway, Tom Murphy Freeway) – Atlanta, Birmingham||I-20 exits 51A-B; signed as exits 10A (east) and 10B (west).|
|8||12||US 78 / US 278 (Hollowell Parkway)|
|9||13||Bolton Road||Clockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance; former SR 70|
|Cobb||Smyrna||10||15||SR 280 (South Cobb Drive) – Smyrna|
|||11||16||South Atlanta Road – Smyrna||Former US 41/SR 3|
|||12||18||Paces Ferry Road – Vinings|
|||13||19||US 41 (Cobb Parkway) – Dobbins AFB||Counterclockwise exit is part of exit 20|
|||14||20||I‑75 – Atlanta, Chattanooga||I-75 exits 259A-B; Cobb Cloverleaf.|
|Fulton||Sandy Springs||15||22||Northside Drive, New Northside Drive, Powers Ferry Road|
|17||25||US 19 south (Roswell Road) – Sandy Springs||Counterclockwise end of US 19 concurrency|
|18||26||Glenridge Drive, Glenridge Connector||Clockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance; former SR 407 Loop|
|19||27||US 19 north / SR 400 – Atlanta, Dahlonega, Cumming||Clockwise end of US 19 concurrency|
|20||28||Peachtree-Dunwoody Road||Counterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance|
|DeKalb||Dunwoody||21||29||Ashford-Dunwoody Road||Diverging diamond interchange (completed June 3, 2012)|
|22||30||Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, North Shallowford Road, North Peachtree Road|
|Doraville||23||31||SR 141 (Peachtree Industrial Boulevard) – Chamblee||Signed as exits 31A (south) and 31B (north)|
|||24||—||Tilly Mill Road/Flowers Road||Exit removed in the 1990s during I-285 reconfiguration|
|Doraville||25||32||US 23 (Buford Highway) – Doraville|
|||26||33||I‑85 – Atlanta, Greenville, Charlotte||I-85 north exit 95, south exits 95A-B; Spaghetti Junction; signed as exits 33A (south) and 33B (north) clockwise. Exits for I-85 south closed temporarily due to bridge collapse. |
|Tucker||27||34||Chamblee-Tucker Road||Clockwise exit is part of exit 33A|
|27A||36||Northlake Parkway||Clockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance|
|28||37||SR 236 (LaVista Road) – Tucker|
|29||38||US 29 (Lawrenceville Highway)|
|Stone Mountain||30||39||US 78 – Decatur, Atlanta, Snellville, Athens||Signed as exits 39A (west) and 39B (east)|
|31||40||East Ponce de Leon Avenue – Clarkston||Clockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance|
|31||40||Church Street – Clarkston||Counterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance|
|||32||41||SR 10 (Memorial Drive) – Avondale Estates|
|||32A||42||Indian Creek Transit Station||Counterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance|
|||33||43||US 278 (Covington Highway)|
|||34||44||Glenwood Road||Former SR 260|
|Panthersville||35||46||I‑20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway, Purple Heart Highway) – Atlanta, Augusta, Columbia||I-20 east exit 67, west exits 67A-B; signed as exits 46A (west) and 46B (east) anti-clockwise.|
|36||48||SR 155 (Flat Shoals Road, Candler Road)|
|||38||52||I‑675 south – Macon, Tampa||I-675 exit 11|
|||39||53||US 23 (Moreland Avenue) – Fort Gillem|
|Fulton||Atlanta||40||55||SR 54 (Jonesboro Road) – Forest Park|
|Clayton||||41||58||I‑75 – Macon, Tampa, International Terminal, Atlanta||I-75 exits 238A-B|
|||42||59||Clark Howell Highway / Loop Road – Air Cargo||Clockwise exit is part of exit 58|
|||43||60||SR 139 (Riverdale Road)|
|College Park||44||61||I‑85 – Columbus, Montgomery, Domestic Terminals, Atlanta||I-85 north exit 68, south exit 69|
|1||62||SR 14 Conn. (South Fulton Parkway) / SR 279 (Old National Highway)|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
In 2013, there were 26 fatal accidents on I-285, giving it the highest rate of such accidents per 10 miles (16 km) of any interstate in the country.
In popular culture
Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Pérez became widely associated with I-285 after he got lost on it while trying to drive to a game. On August 19, 1982, Perez, who had just received his first U.S. driver's license, decided to drive himself to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium (where the Braves played their home games at the time), where he was scheduled to start that evening's game against the Montreal Expos. He was unable to find the proper exit and circled the city several times before running out of gas and calling for help. When Pérez failed to arrive at the stadium by game time, the Braves called upon veteran pitcher Phil Niekro to make the emergency start. The Braves, who had been mired in a 2-19 slump, won the game, kicking off a 13-2 winning streak which carried the team to the National League West division title. The team subsequently made for Pérez a warm-up jacket with the notation "I-285" in place of his uniform number. The humor of the incident was credited for helping to improve the morale of the team and breaking the losing streak.
The South Park episode "Goobacks" features I-285 as the location of the time portal. The interstate sign for I-285 north is shown multiple times as the time travelers appear. However, this is most likely a mistake as US 285, not I-285, actually travels through the area of Colorado on which South Park is based.
In 2008, Atlanta native and hip-hop artist Ludacris released a song about I-285 entitled: "285 (Drinkin & Driving)"
East-Atlanta based hip-hop artist Gucci Mane referenced the interstate's circular pattern in his 2007 song "I Might Be", saying "On 285 I keep ridin' in a circle, the inside of my ride smellin' like a pound of purple".
- State Highway Department of Georgia (1963). State Highway System and Other Principal Connection Roads (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Atlanta: State Highway Department of Georgia. OCLC 5673161. Retrieved February 11, 2017. (Corrected to June 1, 1963.)
- "Route Log - Auxiliary Routes of the Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways - Table 2". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "For Atlanta homebuyers, ITP vs. OTP boundary wars have ended". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
- McKay, John and Bonnie (2001). Insiders' Guide to Atlanta (8th ed.). Morris Book Publishing, LLC. p. 2. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- Georgia's Interstate Exit Numbers Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.
- Interstate 20 Exit Renumbering Page Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.
- "AJC - 285 may see variable speed limit signs". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Voters reject transportation tax". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Diverging Diamond to Open June 4". Sandy Springs, Georgia Patch. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- Mike Morris and Patrick Fox (June 4, 2012). "First Monday commute on new interchange goes smoothly". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- Frostenson, Sarah (6 November 2015). "The 10 deadliest interstates in America, mapped". Vox. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Retrosheet. "Atlanta Braves 5, Montreal Expos 4". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- Card Junk. "Turner Field -- Braves Hall of Fame Museum". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- Garrity, John (23 May 1983). "He Has Found The Way to Go". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
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