Interstate 85

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Interstate 85 marker

Interstate 85
Route information
Length: 668.75 mi[1] (1,076.25 km)
Major junctions
South end: I‑65 / US 82 / SR 6 in Montgomery, AL
  I‑75 in Atlanta, GA
I‑20 in Atlanta, GA
I-26 near Spartanburg, SC
I‑77 in Charlotte, NC
I‑74 near Archdale, NC
I‑73 in Greensboro, NC
I‑40 Greensboro to Hillsborough NC
North end: I‑95 / US 460 in Petersburg, VA
Location
States: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia
Highway system

Interstate 85 (I-85) is a major interstate highway in the Southeastern United States. Its current southern terminus is at an interchange with Interstate 65 in Montgomery, Alabama; its northern terminus interchanges with Interstate 95 in Petersburg, Virginia, near Richmond. It is nominally north-south, but physically mostly northeast-southwest. While most interstates that end in a five are cross-country routes, I-85 is mainly a regional route, serving five southeastern states. Major metropolitan areas served by I-85 include the Greater Richmond Region in Virginia, the Research Triangle, Piedmont Triad, and Metrolina regions of North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, the Atlanta metropolitan area in Georgia, and the Montgomery metropolitan area in Alabama.

Route description[edit]

I-85 is a route that serves several major locations in the Southeastern United States, stretching from Alabama to Virginia and major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta and Charlotte.

Lengths
  mi[1] km
AL 80 130
GA 179.9 292
SC 106.28 172
NC 233.93 377
VA 68.64 112
Total 668.75 1,082

Alabama[edit]

City map of Auburn, Alabama, showing I-85 passing south of it

Interstate 85 begins as a fork off Interstate 65 in Montgomery. From there, I-85 parallels U.S. Route 80 until the highway nears Tuskegee. At Tuskegee, I-85 leaves U.S. 80 and starts to parallel U.S. Route 29, which the highway parallels for much of its length.

I-85 also passes near Auburn, Opelika, Valley and Lanett before crossing the Chattahoochee River into Georgia.

Interstate 85 will soon be rerouted southward just east of Montgomery, where it will intersect with Interstate 65 just south of downtown Montgomery. Future Interstate 685 will be the new designation for the route of current Interstate 85, which leads directly to Interstate 65 in downtown Montgomery.

Georgia[edit]

I-75 co-signed with I-85 in downtown Atlanta, GA

In Georgia, I-85 (unsigned State Route 403) bypasses West Point before coming into the LaGrange area. East of LaGrange, I-85 intersects Interstate 185 which connects to Columbus and Fort Benning. In the Atlanta area, I-85 intersects I-20 and merges with I-75 through the downtown area. North of Atlanta, I-985 provides a link to Gainesville before heading through northeastern Georgia and then crossing into South Carolina.

South Carolina[edit]

Interstate 85 North after Exit 1 in Oconee County, South Carolina, in 2008

Interstate 85 provides the major transportation route for the Upstate of South Carolina, linking together the major centers of Greenville and Spartanburg with regional centers of importance. In Spartanburg, BMW has a major manufacturing plant near the highway. In South Carolina, Interstate 85 bypasses Clemson and Anderson on the way to Greenville. Beginning at Anderson, I-85 widens from four to six lanes. Near Powdersville, U.S. 29 joins I-85 and they run concurrently until they cross the Saluda River. Interstate 85 bypasses just south of Greenville, but provides two links into the city via spur routes Interstates 185 and 385. I-85 also bypasses Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, which serves the Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area. The portion of I-85 between Highway 14 and Spartanburg is scheduled to be repaved in 2015–2016. [2] I-85 then bypasses the city of Spartanburg to the north where its original route is now signed as Business Loop 85 and was approved by AASHTO on April 22, 1995.[3] Near mile marker 70, I-85 intersects with I-26. The exits are signed as exits 70A for east-bound traffic and 70B for west-bound traffic. North of Spartanburg, I-85 narrows from six lanes back to four lanes and bypasses Gaffney. Much of the terrain between Spartanburg and the North Carolina border is rural in nature.

North Carolina[edit]

In North Carolina, I-85 enters a relatively rural area near Kings Mountain before entering the Gastonia and Charlotte areas. In Charlotte, I-85 bypasses Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and turns northeastward just before reaching uptown Charlotte; thus I-85 just bypasses uptown to the north where it junctions with Interstate 77. North of Charlotte, the highway passes near Concord, Salisbury, Lexington and High Point before reaching Greensboro. At Greensboro, I-85 shifts away from downtown Business I-85 (old I-85 through town). I-85 then joins I-40 east of downtown, and the two highways are cosigned as they pass through Burlington, Graham and Mebane then separate near Hillsborough where I-40 turns toward Chapel Hill, Cary and Raleigh. From Durham, I-85 turns northeastward and heads through Oxford then Henderson toward Virginia.

Virginia[edit]

I-85's terminus at I-95 near Petersburg, VA

Starting from the Virginia border, drivers will pass South Hill and McKenney before heading into a large forest. After the forest, Interstate 85 reaches Petersburg and ends at Interstate 95. The highway is briefly cosigned with U.S. Route 460 from a few miles west of Petersburg in Dinwiddie County to I-95. I-85 follows the same general path as US 1 (Boydton Plank Road and Jefferson Davis Highway), as the two cross several times between the North Carolina border and the northern terminus outside of Petersburg.

History[edit]

In the northern half of I-85, the route roughly parallels an ancient Indian trading path documented since colonial times from Petersburg, Virginia to the Catawba Indian territory.

I-85 near Petersburg once formed the southern end of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike, which was completed in 1958. The tolls were removed in 1992 after Interstate 295 was completed.[4]

Before a 2010 decision to raise the speed limit in the state to 70, Virginia's portion of I-85 was also the only Interstate Highway in the state with a posted speed limit greater than 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour). It was raised from 65 mph (105 km/h) to 70 mph (113 km/h) on July 1, 2006, by the state legislature.

In 2004, I-85 was rerouted around Greensboro; and it split with I-40 eight miles (13 km) east of the original departure point. I-40 ran with I-85 along the bypass to the southern/western end and I-40 continued on a new freeway alignment at Exit 121 until September 2008, when it was rerouted back to its old alignment through the city. Despite its reroute around Greensboro, the overall length for I-85 in North Carolina (233 miles/373 km) remains the same as before.

Future[edit]

An extension of Interstate 85 is proposed west from Montgomery to interchange with Interstate 20 and Interstate 59 just east of the Mississippi-Alabama state line,[5] where it will connect with I-20 and I-59 near Cuba, Alabama. This extension will roughly follow the route of U.S. 80, going through or bypassing Selma and Demopolis.[6] The FHWA approved the alignment on February 17, 2011 after AASHTO approved at its Fall 2010 meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. Also approved was the proposal to re-designate part of existing I-85 south and east of Montgomery to be bypassed as part of the extension of I-85 as I-685. Alabama has permission to co-sign this part of I-85 as I-685 until the new alignment is built.[7] This section is also envisioned by some as part of a proposed Interstate 14.

If this extension were to be completed, I-85 and I-20 would meet each other twice.

Interstate 85 is scheduled to have several new auxiliary routes in the future. Interstate 285 is also planned to follow part of the U.S. Route 52 freeway from Lexington to Winston-Salem, both in North Carolina. Interstate 785 is currently planned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to run from Greensboro to Danville, Virginia. The proposed route would follow the current U.S. 29 corridor. There are plans for I-85 from Anderson County, South Carolina to Spartanburg County, South Carolina to become four to five lanes in each direction including HOV lanes, if it is funded it will start construction in 2012.

Major junctions[edit]

Auxiliary routes[edit]

Business routes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata
  1. ^ a b "Route Log and Finder List — Interstate System: Table 1". FHWA. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  2. ^ "Plans Continue for I-385, I-85 Interchange Expansion". 12 June 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Interstate 85@Interstate-Guide.com Courtesy AARoads. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
  4. ^ Kozel, Scott Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike (I-95/I-85) and I-285 Retrieved 27 May 2007.
  5. ^ Volkert and Associates, I-85 Extension Corridor Study & EUIS
  6. ^ Hinnen, Jerry. Shelby shares views with Hale, Greene counties Posted by the Demopolis Times, 17 January 2005.
  7. ^ FHWA letter downloaded from http://cms.transportation.org/sites/route/docs/Alabama%20Interstate%20FHWA%20Decision%20Letter.pdf April 14, 2011
Browse numbered routes
US 84 AL SR 85