|Get started||West Point|
Interstate 85 or I -85 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Georgia. The highway runs from the Alabama border at West Point through Atlanta to the South Carolina border at Lavonia. Interstate 85 is 277 kilometers long.
- ElectronicsMatter: State facts of Georgia, covering history, geography, demography, economics, politics, and administrative division of Georgia.
The Downtown Connector.
Interstate 85 in Alabama comes from the capital Montgomery and crosses the Chattahoochee River at West Point, which forms the border between Alabama and Georgia. I-85 has 2×2 lanes here and begins a 60-mile stretch to Atlanta. Interstate 185 from the city of Columbus connects at La Grange. I-85 still has a small stretch of 2×2 lanes, but from Newnan the highway already has 2×3 lanes, as this area is becoming urbanized. It then takes more than 40 kilometers before reaching the Atlanta ring road.
Interstate 285 forms the Atlanta ring road, I-85 has a short confluence with I-285, including a complex parallel structure. I-85 then runs past Atlanta Airport and merges into Interstate 75 in the south of the city. I-75 and I-85 then combine to form the Downtown Connector, a 2×7-lane freeway through downtown Atlanta. On the south side of downtown, Interstate 20 crosses, after which the Downtown Connector leads deepened through downtown Atlanta, surrounded by skyscrapers. North of the center both highways split again.
I-85 then runs through the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta. I-85 here first has 2×5 lanes and has a large stack interchange with I-285 northeast of Atlanta. After this, I-85 continues for another 50 kilometers through suburban area, this is a very busy corridor with 2×6 to 2×7 lanes until it splits with State Route 316. After that, I-85 has 2×5 lanes more until the fork with Interstate 985. The highway then gradually narrows from 2×4 to 2×2 lanes and leaves the metropolitan area of Atlanta from Braselton.
This is followed by a rural route of 80 kilometers to the border with South Carolina. I-85 no longer passes places of significance here and has even longer stretches of 2×2 lanes. The border with South Carolina is formed by the Lake Hartwell reservoir, where the Savannah River is dammed. Interstate 85 in South Carolina then continues to Greenville and Charlotte.
The highway is signposted as I-85. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has also assigned administrative number SR-403 to the route. This is not signposted and is usually only used in technical documents.
- Fun-wiki: Brief information of the state Georgia, covering basic history and geography as well as top cities of Georgia.
Before the construction of I-85, US 29 was the through route. Due to the rural character of the state at the time, this road had not been upgraded much, Atlanta started growing relatively late. US 29 ran further south between Atlanta and Greenville, via Athens and Anderson. I-85 was built here as a more direct route between US 29 and US 23. This was originally intended as a direct route between Atlanta and Greenville and not as a regional connection via Athens. A similar consideration existed at that time for the construction of I-20 between Atlanta and Augusta, where the original route also passed through Athens. This bypassed both I-20 and I-85 at a greater distance.
The Downtown Connector in Atlanta predates the Interstate Highway era and was constructed in the early 1950s. Much of the rest of I-85 was built in the 1960s, except in western Georgia, where I-85 was not built until the 1970s. In 1979 the highway was continuous from Alabama to South Carolina.
The section through western Georgia, southwest of Atlanta, was built a little later than the other sections of Interstate 85. The first section did not open until 1967, when the rest of the highway passed through Atlanta, and on to the border with South Carolina was already completed. The construction was quite fragmented. In the year 1967, both a piece south of Atlanta and at the height of the border with Alabama were opened. The highway reached LaGrange from the south in 1969, then was slowly extended south from the north during the 1970s. About 1979, the last link was opened to traffic, allowing I-85 to pass through Georgia.
|exit 0||Exit 2||3 km||1967|
|Exit 64||Exit 68||6 km||1967|
|exit 56||Exit 64||13 km||1968|
|Exit 2||exit 13||18 km||1969|
|exit 47||exit 56||14 km||1971|
|Exit 41||exit 47||10 km||1972|
|exit 35||Exit 41||10 km||1976|
|exit 13||exit 35||35 km||1979|
The first section to be built through Atlanta was part of the Downtown Connector in 1952. This actually fell under I-75 construction, as I-85 south of Atlanta was not planned at the time. In 1954, the first individual section of I-85 in north Atlanta opened to traffic. Around 1959 a long stretch opened up to Suwanee, then far outside the built-up area, now part of the urban area. About 1965, the link between I-285 and I-75 in south Atlanta was opened, completing the route through Atlanta.
I-85 at GA-400.
The highway was drastically widened in the 1980s. A section between I-75 and SR-400 was then replaced over a new route, the old four-lane route is now State Route 13, and runs parallel to it. At the same time, the highway has been drastically widened, as the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta are growing the fastest. The highway has been widened from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes to 2×5 to 2×7 lanes during that time. The interchange with the I-285 has also been converted into the current stack.
On October 1, 2011, in the northeast of the Atlanta metropolitan area, the existing HOV 2+ lanes were converted into HOT 3+ lanes. The first reactions were not entirely positive. Work began on August 3, 2016 to extend toll lanes an additional 10 miles from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road. This was completed on October 8, 2018. On July 24, 2018, I-85 began widening to 2×3 lanes from I-985 to State Route 53 in Braselton, which was completed in 2020. This was the first phase of widening a total of 40 miles from I-85 northeast of Atlanta. Later, I-85 was widened further northeast to 2×3 lanes. In October 2022, 6 kilometers of 2×3 lanes opened between Braselton and Jefferson.
Incident in 2017
On March 30, 2017, a fire broke out under an I-85 overpass at Piedmont Road, northeast of Downtown Atlanta. I-85 and adjacent GA-13 had to be closed, a segment of the northbound overpass collapsed and the adjacent southbound overpass was so damaged that it had to be demolished. This meant that 222,000 vehicles had to be diverted daily on alternative routes, demonstrating the vulnerability of Atlanta’s limited network of freeways. Due to the incident, a state of emergency was declared, it was called a ‘transportation crisis’. The bridge was then completely demolished and reopened 44 days after the incident on May 12, 2017.
Atlanta opening history
The north end of the Downtown Connector in Atlanta.
|Exit 242||Exit 244||3 km||1952|
|Exit 249||Exit 251||3 km||1952|
|Exit 251||Exit 86||2 km||1954|
|Exit 244||Exit 245||2 km||1957|
|Exit 86||Exit 111||24 km||~1959|
|Exit 245||Exit 247||3 km||1961|
|Exit 68||exit 70||3 km||1963|
|Exit 247||Exit 249||3 km||1964|
|exit 70||Exit 77||12 km||~1965|
The section through northern Georgia was built fairly quickly. An exact date cannot be given, but sometime between 1964 and 1966 the section between Suwanee and the South Carolina border was completed.
|Exit 111||Exit 177||106 km||~1966|
The express lanes on I-85 northeast of Atlanta.
In northeast Atlanta are the I-85 express lanes. These are toll lanes where you can only pay with the electronic Peach Pass. The HOT lanes consist of one lane in each direction on a 42 km section between Chamblee-Tucker Road (exit 94) and Hamilton Mill Road (exit 120). Toll rates vary according to crowds to ensure free-flow. The toll lanes are toll-free for HOV3+ users. About 24,000 vehicles use the HOT lanes every day, of which approximately 14 – 14.5% are toll-free. The maximum toll rate has continuously increased due to the increased popularity of the HOT lanes since 2011.
I-85 near Gainesville in northeast Georgia.
30,000 vehicles cross the Alabama border every day. In Atlanta this quickly rises to 150,000, and along the airport it rises to 163,000 vehicles. The double numbering with the I-75 has a maximum of 342,000 vehicles per 24 hours. 306,000 vehicles drive daily in northeast Atlanta. There are 262,000 vehicles on the I-285 in the northeast.
The Tom Moreland Interchange between I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta.
|Flat Shoals Road||150,000|
|Jimmy Carter Boulevard||285,000|
|Beaver Ruin Road||302,000|
|Pleasant Hill Road||306,000|
|Hamilton Mill Road||108,000|
|exit 0||exit 47||2×2|
|exit 47||exit 61||2×3|
|exit 61||Exit 68 (I-285)||2×4|
|Exit 68 (I-285)||Exit 70 (I-285)||2×3 *|
|Exit 70 (I-285)||Exit 72||2×4|
|Exit 72||Exit 77 (I-75)||2×3|
|Exit 75 (I-75)||Exit 76||2×6|
|Exit 76||Exit 85 (I-75)||2×7|
|Exit 85 (I-75)||Exit 106||2×6|
|Exit 106||Exit 107||3+4+4+3|
|Exit 107||Exit 113 (I-985)||2×4|
|Exit 113 (I-985)||Exit 137||2×3|
|Exit 137||Exit 177||2×2|
* plus 2+3+3+2 off I-285 (total 16 lanes)