Interstate 485

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This article is about the freeway in North Carolina. For the two unbuilt highways in the US state of Georgia, see Interstate 485 (Georgia).

Interstate 485 marker

Interstate 485
Charlotte Outerbelt
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length: 67.6 mi[1] (108.8 km)
Existed: 1988 – present
Major junctions
Beltway around Charlotte
Counties: Mecklenburg
Highway system
NC 481 I‑495

Interstate 485 (I-485) is an Interstate Highway loop encircling Charlotte, North Carolina. Completion of the last segment of the highway occurred on June 5, 2015.[2]

Route description[edit]

I-485 travels 67.6 miles (108.8 km) around the city of Charlotte, with mile markers begin/end at the I-77/US 21 interchange near Pineville. Lane counts vary from four to eight, while the posted speed limit throughout is 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).[3] The beltway is further broken down into four segments: Seddon "Rusty" Goode Freeway (southwest), Craig Lawing Freeway (northwest), H. Allen Tate, Jr. Highway (northeast) and Governor James G. Martin Freeway (southeast).

The southwest segment is six-lanes throughout, on concrete, and borders the Steele Creek area. Attractions in this area include the Charlotte Premium Outlets (exit 4) and Lake Wylie. There is also two exits here for the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport: exit 6 for the Air Cargo Center and exit 9 for the main terminal. The northwest segment of the beltway is six-lanes throughout, on concrete. Attractions in this area include the U.S. National Whitewater Center (exit 12), Northlake Mall (exit 21) and Mountain Island Lake. The northeast segment is eight-lanes throughout, using both concrete and asphalt, and borders Huntersville at its northernmost point. Attractions in this area include the Carolina Renaissance Festival (October-November) and Concord Mills Mall. The southeast segment is the largest segment, which goes through the towns of Mint Hill, Matthews and Pineville, as well as the notable Charlotte neighborhoods University City and Ballantyne area. Over 18 miles (29 km) of the segment is four-lane, with six/eight lane sections within the University City, Ballantyne and Pineville areas, all on asphalt. Attractions in this area include the Charlotte Motor Speedway (exit 32), PNC Music Pavilion, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (exit 33), the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex, Carolina Place Mall (exit 64B) and President James K. Polk Historic Site (exit 65B).

Although the loop runs within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of the South Carolina state line, and within 20 feet (6.1 m) of the Cabarrus County line at the Rocky River Road exit, the entire beltway is within Mecklenburg County's boundaries, and never crosses into South Carolina or any neighboring counties. I-485 is Charlotte's first "true" loop road; both I-277 and Route 4 are partial ring roads.

Orientation and signage[edit]

Since Interstate 485 is a beltway, the compass orientation of the freeway is not uniform around the loop. To remedy the uniformity issue, the inner/outer orientation system was implemented and became the primary method of signing the direction of travel around the loop. Some sections of the loop are signed with additional north/south or east/west labels (depending on the general direction of travel along a particular stretch) to aid drivers familiar with compass directions. Usually when both systems are utilized on signs, the compass directional banner is placed above the number shield and the inner/outer banner is placed below.[4] Officials originally decided to use only "north" and "south" compass directions when signing the route, but because this would be confusing with multiple "norths" and "souths", "inner" and "outer" designations were included. Although "east" and "west" signs exist, these will be phased out in favor of "inner" and "outer" designations.[5]

Traffic traveling in a clockwise direction around the city of Charlotte is on the "Inner" loop and traffic traveling in a counterclockwise direction is on the "Outer" loop.[6] This system can be confusing, but it is logical; since traffic in the United States generally travels on the right side of the road, the clockwise traveling lanes will always be the "Inner" lanes of a loop.[4]

There are three control cities along the route: Huntersville, Matthews and Pineville. Secondary control cities, which include Spartanburg, Statesville, Greensboro and Columbia, are also listed at various interchanges for travelers that want to bypass Charlotte to other destinations, via Interstates 77 and 85.

Dedicated and memorial names[edit]

I-485 in North Carolina is split into four dedicated or memorialized stretches of freeway.

  • Craig Lawing Freeway – Official name of the northwest section, named for Craig Lawing from mile marker 10 to 23 (approved: February 2, 2001).[7]
  • Governor James G. Martin Freeway – Official name of the southeast section, from mile marker 31 to 67. Named in honor of Governor James G. Martin who served North Carolina from 1985 to 1993 (approved: December 4, 1993).[7]
  • H. Allen Tate, Jr. Highway – Official name of the northeast section, from mile marker 23 to 31. Named after the founder of Allen Tate Realtors and was dedicated on March 27, 2015.[8][9]
  • Seddon "Rusty" Goode Freeway – Official name of the southwest section, from mile marker 0 to 10. Seddon Goode served on the transportation board in Mecklenburg County and helped bring I-485 as a reality (approved: March 7, 1997).[7]
  • Doctor Jay M. Robinson Freeway – Was the official name of the northeast section, from 2001-2015. Named after a former superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system.[7] Approved on January 5, 2001, it was never signed; when this section was finally constructed in 2015, it was redesignated to honor H. Allen Tate, Jr.[8]


NC 24 end at I-485, in Charlotte

The first section of what would become Interstate 485 was completed around 1967, connecting a newly opened section of I-85 with US 29 near the Cabarrus-Mecklenburg county line.[10][11] This section became a part of Interstate 485 on May 5, 1999, the first section of the highway on the north end of the county.[12]

In 1975, planning began for the Charlotte outerbelt.[13]

On July 8, 1988, Gov. Jim Martin and state transportation secretary Seddon Goode attended a groundbreaking near US 521, marking the start of construction on the first 1.3-mile (2.1 km) section between US 521 and NC 51. Martin also announced the designation "Interstate 485" for what had previously been called the outerbelt.[14] The section opened November 1, 1990, two months earlier than planned.[15] Still, because of all the development in the area, the highway immediately became inadequate for the area's needs and required widening.[16]

A 2.6-mile (4.2 km), $67.2 million section of I-485 from US 521 to I-77 opened October 24, 1994. The section included a four-level interchange at I-77.[17] On December 9, 1994, the section from NC 51 to Rea Road opened.[18]

On July 1, 1997, a $13.9 million 2-mile (3.2 km) section of I-485 opened between I-77 and NC 49, a section designated The Seddon "Rusty" Goode Jr. Freeway, named for a member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation who helped decide where I-485 would be built.[19]

On August 15, 1997, 2.3 miles (3.7 km) of I-485 opened between Rea Road and NC 16 (Providence Road).[20] An $8.6 million 1.4-mile (2.3 km) section from NC 49 to Brown-Grier Road in the Steele Creek community opened in two stages August 26 and 27; the name of Brown-Grier Road changed to Arrowood Road when that road was extended.[21] Seven more miles opened September 15, connecting NC 16 to U.S. 74.[22]

After the upgrade to the section between I-85 and US 29 was finished in May 1999, the section from US 29 to NC 49 opened August 13, 1999.[23] 2.3 miles from U.S. 74 to Idlewild Road opened in December 1999.[12][24]

A $10.2 million, 3-mile (4.8 km) section opened between Idlewild Road and Lawyers Road in Mint Hill In June 2000.[25]

By 2003, new sections were designed with six lanes. Despite the need to widen older sections of the highway to six lanes, other priorities were higher. A 2000 policy prevented the state from using trust fund money, a major source of funding for new projects, to widen existing roads.[16]

A 7.5-mile (12.1 km), $55.4 million section opened September 3, 2003. It was hoped that 12.5 miles (20.1 km) could open, connecting NC 49 to Lawyers Road, but only the section north of NC 27 (Albemarle Road) opened at that time.[26] I-485 reached an important milestone November 19, 2003, when the last 5 miles (8.0 km) opened between. I-485 finally connected I-85 on the north end of Charlotte to I-77 on the south end. In all, the outerbelt stretched 37 miles (60 km).[13]

On October 19, 2004, I-485 reached another milestone, with a $100 million, 7-mile (11 km) section opening from Arrowood Road to I-85 west of Charlotte. The outerbelt provided a connection between I-77 south of the city to I-85 and would relieve traffic on Billy Graham Parkway.[27]

2.3 miles (3.7 km) from I-85 to NC 27 (Mount Holly Road) opened December 15, 2006.[28] 1.5-mile (2.4 km) section, from NC 27 to NC 16 (Brookshire Boulevard), opened on May 9, 2007.[29] I-485 reached I-77 as 5.5 miles (8.9 km) opened December 4, 2008 more than a year late between NC 16 and NC 115.[30]

The final segment, from I-77 to I-85 near UNC Charlotte, had began Right of Way Acquisition phase with contracts awarded in June 2010. The segment opened to traffic on June 5, 2015, finally completing the loop and providing a direct connection from I-77 near Huntersville to I-85 near Concord Mills Mall.[31][32]

Widening to six lanes of the 9.2-mile (14.8 km) section from Rea Road to I-77 began in 2013. The $83.3 million project is expected to be complete in December 2015.[33]


Governor Bev Perdue was pushing to have the final section of the loop (connecting NC 115 to I-85) started in the year 2009 and completed within three years, possibly utilizing funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This project will coincide with a planned widening of I-85 through Cabarrus County and convert the current trumpet interchange (exit 48 off I-85), from what was originally planned as a stack interchange, into a turbine interchange.[31]

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has proposed to build additional travel and auxiliary lanes along the southern section of I-485 between US 521/Johnston Road (exit 61) and I-77/US 21 (exit 67). Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2012.[34] On November 18, 2011, it was reported in the local news that NCDOT is considering adding another toll lane along the current project, making it eight travel lanes and extend the widening project from four to six travel lanes from Providence Road (exit 57) to US 521/Johnston Road (exit 61). The new toll lane would use the electronic toll collection system, same as used on the Triangle Expressway. It is unknown at this time if it will be a toll only lane or a HOT lane.[35]

In addition, NCDOT is planning to convert the existing grade separation at Weddington Road (located between exit 57 and exit 52) to an interchange beginning in 2013. The proposed design is a folded-diamond style interchange with all four ramps located to one side of the existing grade separation, similar to the existing interchange of I-485 & NC 24/NC 27. The westbound (inner) ramps are proposed to intersect Weddington Road directly opposite Plantation Drive. The future interchange will likely be designated Exit 54.

Exit list[edit]

Mile numbering on Interstate 485 is set up as the freeway is a completed loop. Numbering begins at Interstate 77 south of Charlotte and continues clockwise back to this freeway at mile 67.

The entire route is in Mecklenburg County.

Location mi[36] km Exit Destinations Notes
Charlotte 1.6 2.6 1 NC 49 (S. Tryon Street)
3.0 4.8 3 Arrowood Road
4.4 7.1 4 NC 160 (Steele Creek Road) – Fort Mill Partial cloverleaf interchange
  6.0 9.7 6 West Boulevard
  9.4 15.1 9 US 29 / US 74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) – Charlotte/Douglas International Airport Exit is part of exit 10 southbound
  10.0 16.1 10 I‑85 – Greensboro, Spartanburg Signed as exits 10A (north) and 10B (south) on exit collector lanes; stack interchange
Charlotte 11.8 19.0 12 Moores Chapel Road Double roundabout interchange
13.0 20.9 14 NC 27 (Mount Holly Road)
15.6 25.1 16 NC 16 (Brookshire Boulevard) – Newton Partial cloverleaf interchange
Oakdale Road Future interchange (unfunded, partially constructed)[37]
20.6 33.2 21 NC 24 east (Harris Boulevard) Partial cloverleaf interchange, to Northlake Mall
Huntersville 22.0 35.4 23 I‑77 – Charlotte, Statesville Signed as exits 23A (south) and 23B (north) southbound
23.0 37.0 23C NC 115 (Old Statesville Road)
Charlotte 26 Prosperity Ridge Road / Prosperity Church Road / Benfield Road Double roundabout interchange
28 Mallard Creek Road Diverging diamond interchange
28.4 45.7 30 I‑85 – Greensboro, Charlotte Turbine interchange
30.6 49.2 32 US 29 (N. Tryon Street) – Charlotte, Concord Partial cloverleaf interchange, to Charlotte Motor Speedway
32.2 51.8 33 NC 49 (University City Boulevard) – Harrisburg To UNC Charlotte
  34.7 55.8 36 Rocky River Road
  37.5 60.4 39 Harrisburg Road
Mint Hill 38.4 61.8 41 NC 24 / NC 27 (Albemarle Road) – Albemarle
40.4 65.0 43 NC 51 (Blair Road) – Mint Hill
42.2 67.9 44 NC 218 (Fairview Road) – Mint Hill
44.1 71.0 47 Lawyers Road
Matthews 46.3 74.5 49 Idlewild Road
47.1 75.8 51 US 74 – Charlotte, Monroe Signed as exits 51A (west) and 51B (east) southbound
50.4 81.1 52 East John Street – Matthews, Stallings, Indian Trail
Weddington Road Future interchange (unfunded)[38]
Charlotte 54.1 87.1 57 NC 16 (Providence Road) – Weddington Partial cloverleaf interchange
56.2 90.4 59 Rea Road Partial cloverleaf interchange
59.4 95.6 61 US 521 south (Johnston Road) Signed as exits 61A (north) and 61B (south) northbound; to Ballantyne
Pineville 61.4 98.8 64 NC 51 (Pineville-Matthews Road) – Pineville, Matthews Signed as exits 64A (north) and 64B (south); partial cloverleaf interchange, to Carolina Place Mall
64.2 103.3 65 South Boulevard / North Polk Street – Pineville Signed as exits 65A (south) and 65B (north) southbound; partial cloverleaf interchange
Charlotte 67.6 108.8 67 I‑77 / US 21 – Charlotte, Columbia Stack interchange
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Google Maps". Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  2. ^ "NCDOT Announces Opening Date for Final Segment of I-485" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 13, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ "NCDOT Implementing 70 MPH Speed Limit on I-485 Outer Loop" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Interstate Guide - I-485 Outer / Wilkinson Blvd sign picture
  5. ^ Dr. Traffic (May 14, 2006). "Making heads or tails of inner, outer loops". The Charlotte Observer. [page needed]
  6. ^ "State has new way to identify location on I-485". Charlotte, NC: WSOC-TV. March 7, 2005. Retrieved December 2006. 
  7. ^ a b c d "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Sorensen, Andrew (March 27, 2015). "Final Section of I-485 Officially Named After H. Allen Tate, Jr.". Charlotte, NC: Time Warner Cable News. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Final Segment of I-485 Named for Entrepreneur and Longtime Transportation Advocate Allen Tate" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ O'Brien, Gary (August 28, 1996). "Clearing the Way". 'The Charlotte Observer. p. 2M. 
  11. ^ Lyttle, Steve (June 1, 2013). "2 Meck bridges among NC's 'substandard". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  12. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (May 6, 1999). "Stretch of Road Part of a Larger Step". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  13. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (November 20, 2003). "I-485 Arc Takes Shape to Bypass Charlotte". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  14. ^ Curry, Kathleen (July 9, 1988). "Outerbelt Dubbed I-485: Construction on Road Project Officially Under Way". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  15. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (November 11, 1990). "I-485's Opening Unclogs Traffic at Intersection, Not in Heart of Pineville". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4 (Mecklenburg Neighbors). 
  16. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (May 13, 2003). "Rules Delay Widening Busiest I-485 Stretch". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  17. ^ Norwood, Allen (October 25, 1994). "Open for Business: Ribbon Cut on Newest I-485 Section". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  18. ^ Norwood, Allen (December 2, 1994). "Bracing As the Outerbelt Advances". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  19. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (July 2, 1997). "Charlotte's Outerbelt Adds Link to NC 49". The Charlotte Observer. p. 2C. 
  20. ^ Horan, Jack & LaPolla, Joie (August 15, 1997). "A Welcome Link: New Section of Outerbelt a Big Deal for Union County". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  21. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (August 28, 1998). "1.4-Mile Stretch of I-485 Opens from NC 49 to Steele Creek". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  22. ^ Gomlak, Norman; LaPolla, Joie (September 14, 1997). "New I-485 Link: Life in the Faster Lane". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4U. 
  23. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (August 13, 1999). "I-485 Leg Opens Today, But Will Traffic Come?". The Charlotte Observer. p. 5C. 
  24. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (December 16, 1999). "Filling in the Belt's Gaps". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  25. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (June 7, 2000). "I-485 Reaches Mint Hill". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  26. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (September 3, 2003). "Opening Today Adds 7.5 Miles to Eastern I-485". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  27. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (October 20, 2004). "Outerbelt Section Opens to Cheers, Parade of Cars". The Charlotte Observer. p. 2B. 
  28. ^ Rubin, Richard (December 16, 2006). "Outerbelt Giveth, and Taketh Away". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  29. ^ Song, Jenny (May 10, 2007). "Next Exit: Even More Growth along I-485". The Charlotte Observer. [page needed]
  30. ^ Harrison, Steve (December 3, 2008). "Newest I-485 Section to Open". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  31. ^ a b "I-485 Charlotte Outer Loop". North Carolina Department of Tranporation. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Charlotte company awarded contract for I-485 completion". Charlotte, NC: WCNC-TV. June 3, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  33. ^ Penland, Brittany (December 2, 2012). "Ballantyne widening of I-485 starts in new year". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4B. 
  34. ^ "Project R-4902". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  35. ^ "NC considers adding toll lane to I-485". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  36. ^ Google (July 20, 2012). "Interstate 485 (Western Half)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Project R-2248". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Project R-0211". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google