Interstate 85 in Georgia

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Interstate 85 marker
Interstate 85
I-85 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by GDOT
Length179.9 mi[1] (289.5 km)
Major junctions
South end I-85 at the Alabama state line
Major intersections
North end I-85 at the South Carolina state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesHarris, Troup, Meriwether, Coweta, Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Banks, Franklin, Hart
Highway system
  • Georgia State Highway System
SR 84 SR 85
SR 402SR 403 SR 404

Interstate 85 (I-85) is a major Interstate Highway that travels northeast-to-southwest in the U.S. state of Georgia. It enters the state at the Alabama state line near West Point, and Lanett, Alabama, traveling through the Atlanta metropolitan area and to the South Carolina state line, 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, I-85 is also designated as the unsigned State Route 403 (SR 403).

I-85 in Georgia usually travels roughly parallel with the route of U.S. Route 29 (US 29). However, from Atlanta northeast to South Carolina, I-85 ventures away from that route, traveling about halfway between US 29 and the combination of US 23 and US 123.

Within the City of Atlanta, I-85 has a concurrency with I-75 known as the "Downtown Connector". After splitting from Downtown Connector, it is known as Northeast Expressway until its junction with I-285 (The Perimeter).

Route description[edit]

Alabama state line to I-185[edit]

I-85 undergoing repairs near the Alabama state line

I-85 enters the state of Georgia from Alabama via twin bridges over the Chattahoochee River, and then it immediately skirts the town of West Point, with Kia's multibillion-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, I-185, to the Columbus, Georgia Metropolitan Area. This is the only connection between Columbus and the Interstate Highway System.

An 18-mile (29 km) stretch between the Alabama line and exit 18 in LaGrange is serving as an environmental and technological testbed for a project called The Ray, a partnership involving federal and state officials, the private sector, academia and philanthropic organizations. Among the projects are a solar-paved roadway, enhanced road striping for autonomous vehicles and plantings along the right-of-way to improve runoff and possibly serve as a harvestable crop.[3]

From I-185 through Atlanta[edit]

From LaGrange, I-85 heads northeastward towards Atlanta. Before reaching Atlanta, the highway crosses the CSX A&WP Subdivision twice (in the Grantville area) and passes through the suburbs of Moreland, Newnan, Fairburn, and Union City. The highway then intersects I-285 at its southwest end in College Park. This interchange is one of the most complex interchanges in the country (I-285 and I-85 stay side-by side through the interchange, which actually has two parts. The interchange also features many other, not as important local access roads at the same time), meanwhile providing access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I-85 then runs along the northwestern boundary of the airport in East Point, providing access to the domestic terminal. (This airport is bounded on all sides by I-85, I-75, and I-285, all of which provide highway access to the airport.) I-75 services the International Terminals of the airport, which are located on the east side of the airport.

At the southwestern edge of Atlanta's city limits, I-85 merges with I-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, I-20. The two freeways then skirt the eastern edge of downtown, running due north, passing through the Georgia Tech campus and the Atlantic Station section of Atlanta 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 State Route 400 (SR 400, exit 87). Continuing northeast of Atlanta, I-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, Buford. The Interstate has freeway interchanges with SR 316 in Duluth and I-985 in Suwanee, which provides a link to Gainesville. I-85 eventually leaves the Atlanta metro area and narrows down to four lanes (two in each direction) past exit 129 as the highway continues into the rural parts of northeast Georgia. At Lake Hartwell, which was formed by the damming of the Savannah River, I-85 crosses the Savannah River into South Carolina.

Express lanes[edit]

I-85 has the first express 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 registered transport vehicles, carpools with three or more occupants, motorcycles, and buses are exempt from toll charges as long as they are registered as such.[4] Tolls are collected using an electronic toll collection system. All travelers that use the lane must have a Peach Pass sticker to avoid fines.[5][6] Starting in November 2014, SunPass (Florida) and NC Quick Pass (North Carolina) are inter-operable with Peach Pass, allowing motorists with those transponders to use the express lanes.

On November 3, 2018, an extension to the express lanes opened, from its former ending at Old Peachtree Rd to Hamilton Mill Rd (exit 120).[7] After this extension, four more northbound exit points were added: at SR 317 (exit 111), I-985 (exit 113), SR 20 (exit 115), and at its end at Hamilton Mill Rd (exit 120). In addition, four new access points were added to the southbound express lanes: at SR 20, SR 317, Old Peachtree Rd, and at the connection to the pre-existing express lanes.[8] The project costed $178 million.[9] The express lanes extension will incur a separate charge from the existing express lanes. This is to decrease the impact of high congestion on the existing express lanes on the dynamic pricing of the express lanes extension, since lower congestion is expected on the new extension of the express lanes.[10]

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.[11]

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.[5] 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.[12][13]


I-75 co-signed with I-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 30-mile (48 km) section between LaGrange and Newnan was incomplete for a much-longer time that the rest of I-85 in Georgia and required a two-lane detour on Hwy 27 & Hwy 29 between those cities. The northern section between Newnan and Grantville was completed first, then the stretch further south to LaGrange was completed in 1977.[14]

The portion of the highway from the Buford Highway Connector to SR 400 was constructed during the early 1980s, and was designed as a replacement for the original four-lane routing of I-85 (now SR 13). In addition, the new viaduct was designed to accommodate connections to the SR 400 tollway (then in planning), HOV lanes, and a bridge carrying the MARTA North Line (then under construction).[15]

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.[16][17]

On October 1, 2011, GDOT converted the 16.0-mile (25.7 km) HOV lanes in Northern Atlanta into express/HOT lanes.[5]

From Atlanta, I-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, then-Gov. Ernest Vandiver worked to make sure the highway traversed his home county of Franklin, a stretch that now bears his name. At the time, he promised equivalent access for Athens and Gainesville.[18] It was not until the completion of SR 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 SR 316 still is largely at-grade.

On March 30, 2017, a fire started at approximately 6:15 p.m. in a storage area under the highway along Piedmont Road in the Piedmont Heights area of Midtown Atlanta. This caused the collapse of a 100-foot (30 m) section of I-85 northbound. The highway in both directions needed to be demolished and replaced. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the work was completed ahead of schedule. Both the north and south bound portions of the interstate were open by May 15, 2017, a month ahead of expectations.[19]


In May 2017, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted to accept about $6 million in federal funds, to be used to acquire land to build a new diamond interchange on I-85 at SR 324/Gravel Springs Road.[20] The new exit will be located between exit 115, for SR 20, and exit 120, for Hamilton Mill Road/Hamilton Mill Parkway. The board voted in July 2019 to accept about $20 million in federal and state grants to pay for the construction of the new interchange. E.R. Snell Contractors will complete the work.[21] Since an overpass already exists for SR 324, on- and off-ramps, I-85 deceleration lanes, traffic signals, and turn lanes are the main aspects of the interchange to be added.[22] The main goal for the new interchange is to provide another access point from I-85 to the Mall of Georgia.[20] Construction of the interchange is expected to start in late 2018[needs update] and will be completed in about 18 months.[23]

Exit list[edit]

CountyLocationmikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
Harris0.000.00 I-85 south – Lanett, MontgomeryContinuation into Alabama over the Chattahoochee River
TroupWest Point2.253.6212 SR 18 – West Point, Pine Mountain
6.5210.496KIA BoulevardKia Car Plant
13.0120.94213 SR 219 – LaGrangeTo Pegasus Parkway, an industrial and recreational bypass around Downtown LaGrange
LaGrange14.2522.93314 US 27 (SR 1) – LaGrange
18.1229.16418 SR 109 – Greenville, Warm Springs, LaGrange
521 I-185 south (SR 411) – ColumbusTo Fort Benning
Hogansville28.3545.62628 SR 54 / SR 100 – Hogansville, Luthersville
No major junctions
CowetaGrantville35.2456.71735 US 29 (SR 14) – Grantville, Moreland
Newnan41.2266.34841 US 27 Alt. / US 29 – Newnan, Moreland, GreenvilleTo SR 16
44.0270.8444Poplar RoadProvides direct access to Piedmont Newnan Hospital
46.6875.12947 SR 34 – Newnan, Peachtree City, ShenandoahTo business district
51.2882.531051 SR 154 (McCollum-Sharpsburg Road)
56.3790.721156Collinsworth Road – Palmetto, Tyrone
FultonFairburn61.2698.591261 SR 74 – Fairburn, Peachtree City
Union City64.17103.271364 SR 138 – Union City, Jonesboro
College Park65.86105.991466Flat Shoals RoadTo Georgia Military College
1568 I-285 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) – Birmingham, Chattanooga, International Terminal, MaconNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; split into I-285 north (Birmingham, Chattanooga) and I-285 east (International Terminal, Macon); temporary detour route to I-85 north[24]
69.14111.2716A69A SR 14 Conn. (South Fulton Parkway)
College Park69.61112.0316B69B SR 279 (Old National Highway)
70.30113.141770 I-285 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) – Macon, Birmingham, ChattanoogaSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; to International Terminal
Clayton71.05114.341871 SR 139 (Riverdale Road) – Domestic
FultonCollege Park72.27–
To SR 6 west (Camp Creek Parkway) – Air Cargo, Domestic
East Point73.72118.641973Virginia Avenue – Air Cargo, College ParkSigned as exits 73A (east) and 73B (west) northbound
74.03119.142074 Loop Road – InternationalSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
Hapeville74.57120.012175Sylvan Road / Central Avenue – Hapeville
Atlanta75.78121.962276 Cleveland Avenue – East PointTo Atlanta Technical College
76.08122.442377 US 19 / US 41 / SR 3 (Metropolitan Parkway)Southbound exit and northbound entrance
76.70123.442477 SR 166 (Langford Parkway)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
87 I-75 south (SR 401) – International, MaconSouthern end of I-75/SR 295 concurrency along the Downtown Connector; southern terminus of SR 295; 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).
I-75 / I-85 north (HOV lanes)Southern terminus of HOV3+/toll lanes
77.30124.4088243 SR 166 (Langford Parkway) – East Point
79.14127.3689244University Avenue / Pryor Street
80.19129.0590245Abernathy Boulevard / Capitol Avenue – Georgia State StadiumNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
80.54129.6291246Fulton Street / Central Avenue – Georgia State University, Georgia State Stadium
80.78130.0092247 I-20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway / SR 402) – Augusta, Birmingham
81.00130.36Memorial DriveHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
81.16130.6193248AML King Jr. Drive – State Capitol, Georgia State StadiumSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
81.74131.5594248BEdgewood Avenue, Auburn Avenue, J.W. Dobbs AvenueNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
82.11132.1496248C SR 10 east (Freedom Parkway) / Andrew Young International Boulevard – Carter CenterWestern terminus of SR 10
81.97131.9295248DJesse Hill Drive, J.W. Dobbs Avenue, Edgewood AvenueSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
82.00131.97PiedmontHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
82.53132.8297249ACourtland Street – Georgia State UniversitySouthbound exit only
82.79133.2498249BPine Street, Peachtree Street – Civic CenterNorthbound exit only
82.98133.5499249CWilliams Street – World Congress Center, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, AquariumNo northbound exit; additional HOV ramps for southbound exit and northbound entrance
100249D US 19 / US 29 (Spring Street / West Peachtree Street)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
83.18133.87100249D US 29 / US 78 / US 278 / SR 8 (North Avenue) – Georgia TechSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
10125010th Street, 14th Street – Georgia TechNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
84.58136.12251A17th Street – MidtownNorthbound exit only
268417th Street, 14th Street, 10th StreetSouthbound exit only, to Georgia Tech
84.92136.672785 I-75 north (SR 401) – Marietta, ChattanoogaNorthern end of I-75/SR 295 concurrency along the Downtown Connector; southern terminus of SR 295
85.92138.272886 SR 13 north (Buford Hwy)Northbound exit and southbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 13
86.00138.40Lindbergh DriveHOV-only ramps; southbound exit and northbound entrance
2987 SR 400 north / Piedmont Avenue – Buckhead, CummingNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 400
87.77141.252886 SR 400 north / SR 13 south – Buckhead, Cumming, to Peachtree StreetSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 400
88.11141.803088Cheshire Bridge Road / Lenox RoadSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
DeKalbBrookhaven89.23143.603189 SR 42 (North Druid Hills Road)To Oglethorpe University
90.65145.893291 US 23 / SR 155 (Clairmont Road)To DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and Emory University
Doraville92.91149.523393Shallowford Road – DoravilleTo Briarcliff Road
Chamblee94.26151.703494Chamblee–Tucker Road, Mercer University
95.46153.633595 I-285 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) – Augusta, Macon, Chattanooga, BirminghamSigned as exits 95A (east, Macon, Augusta) and 95B (west, Chattanooga, Birmingham) southbound
96.06154.593696Northcrest Road / Pleasantdale Road
GwinnettNorcross98.80159.003799 SR 140 west (Jimmy Carter Boulevard)Eastern terminus of SR 140
100.94162.4538101Indian Trail–Lilburn Road
102.06164.2539102 SR 378 (Beaver Ruin Road) – Lilburn
103.56166.6639A103Steve Reynolds BoulevardNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
104.07167.4840104Pleasant Hill RoadGwinnett Place Mall; To Ronald Reagan Parkway
105.98170.5642105 SR 120 – Duluth, LawrencevilleNorthbound exit only
41106 SR 316 east – Lawrenceville, AthensNo southbound exit; additional northbound exit and southbound entrance ramps for direct HOT/express lane access; western terminus of SR 316
SR 120 to SR 316 east / Boggs Road – Duluth, Lawrenceville
Southbound exit only
107.84173.55108Sugarloaf ParkwaySouthbound exit is combined with exit 109.
108.96175.3543109Old Peachtree Road
111.46179.3844111 SR 317 north – SuwaneeSouthern terminus of SR 317
112.96181.7945113 I-985 north (SR 365 north / SR 419 north)Northbound exit and southbound entrance, to Buford Dam and Lake Lanier Islands; left exit northbound; southern terminus of I-985/SR 365/SR 419
115.22185.4346115 SR 20 – Lawrenceville, BufordTo Mall of Georgia
Buford118.00189.90-118 SR 324 (Gravel Springs Road)To Mall of Georgia
I-85 south (Express Lanes)Northern terminus of HOV3+/toll lanes
119.81192.8247120Hamilton Mill Road / Hamilton Mill Parkway
BarrowBraselton126.10202.9448126 SR 211 – Winder
Jackson129.37208.2049129 SR 53 – Braselton, Hoschton, WinderTo Michelin Raceway
Jefferson136.60219.8450137 US 129 / SR 11 – Gainesville, JeffersonTo Athens and University of Georgia
140.41225.9751140 SR 82 (Dry Pond Road / Holly Springs Road)
Commerce146.58235.9052147 SR 98 – Commerce, Maysville
Banks149.32240.3153149 US 441 / SR 15 – Commerce, Homer, Banks CrossingTo Atlanta Dragway and University of Georgia
153.74247.4254154 SR 63 (Martin Bridge Road) – Toccoa
Franklin159.82257.2155160 SR 51 – Homer, Franklin Springs, Royston, Elberton
163.87263.7256164 SR 320 – Carnesville
165.91267.0157166 SR 106 / SR 145 – Carnesville, Toccoa
Lavonia173.10278.5858173 SR 17 – Lavonia, Toccoa, Elberton
HartLake Hartwell177.24285.2459177 SR 77 south – Hartwell, Lake HartwellNorthern terminus of SR 77
179.13288.28 I-85 north – Greenville, CharlotteContinuation into South Carolina over the Tugaloo River and Lake Hartwell
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Auxiliary routes[edit]

There are three auxiliary Interstate Highways of I-85 within Georgia and a fourth that was proposed, and then cancelled. I-185 is a spur from LaGrange to Columbus. It mainly provides a freeway between the Columbus and Atlanta metropolitan areas. I-285 is a heavily traveled beltway around Atlanta, which helps I-75 and I-85 drivers to bypass the city. I-485 was a short freeway in Atlanta (now Freedom Parkway) that was incomplete for many years and then decommissioned due to local opposition. Also, I-985 is a spur from I-85 to Gainesville.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adderly, Kevin (January 27, 2016). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as of December 31, 2015". Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  2. ^ State Highway Department of Georgia (1960). State Highway System and Other Principal Connecting Roads (PDF) (Map) (1960–1961 ed.). Scale not given. Atlanta: State Highway Department of Georgia. OCLC 5673161. Retrieved July 12, 2016. (Corrected to June 1, 1960.)
  3. ^ Wagenblast, Bernie. "Exploring The Ray, An Interview with Allie Kelly". ETAP Podcast. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Georgia Department of Public Safety. "I-85 Express Lanes (HOT Lanes)". Georgia Department of Public Safety. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Georgia Department of Transportation. "I-85 Express Lanes". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on September 22, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  6. ^ "100,000th Peach Pass Issued for Controversial HOT Lanes". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Yeomans, Curt. "Georgia set to open I-85 toll lane extension Saturday". Gwinnett Daily Post. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  8. ^[bare URL PDF]
  9. ^ "I-85 Express Lanes Extension". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  10. ^ "I-85 Express Lanes Extension". Peach Pass. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "I-85 Express Lanes: FAQ". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  12. ^ McKee, Don. "Commuters getting hot about HOT lanes in metro Atlanta". The Marietta Daily Journal. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  13. ^ "HOT Lane Unhappiness: Some Drivers Say Congestion Worse". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on October 30, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  14. ^ "I-85 completed between LaGrange & Grantville".[full citation needed]
  15. ^ "State Route 13 Page". Peach State Roads. Archived from the original on May 23, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2007.[self-published source]
  16. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "Georgia's Interstate Exit Numbers". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on March 29, 2002. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  17. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "Interstate 20 Exit Renumbering Page". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on June 5, 2002. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  18. ^ Lavender, Rick. "Interstate 85 Through Hall? It Very Nearly Was Gov. Ernest Vandiver Redirected Highway Plans in 1950s". The Times. Gainesville, GA. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  19. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation (April 4, 2017). "Georgia DOT Aims to Reopen I-85 by June 15" (Press release). Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Estep, Tyler. "More funding approved for new I-85 interchange in Gwinnett". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Estep, Tyler. "That new I-85 interchange near Buford could be under construction soon". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  22. ^ McCarley, Billy J. "Phase I Archaeological Survey of I-85 at SR 324 Interchange | Georgia Archaeological Site File". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  23. ^ Yeomans, Curt. "Gwinnett, GDOT reach agreement for I-85 interchange project". Gwinnett Daily Post. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "I-85 Bridge Collapse in Atlanta: What We Know, How to Detour Around Damages". USA Today. October 20, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2017.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

Interstate 85
Previous state:
Georgia Next state:
South Carolina