Interstate 85 in Georgia
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Interstate 85 in Georgia

Interstate 85 marker

Interstate 85
I-85 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by GDOT
Length179.9 mi[2] (289.5 km)
Major junctions
South end at the Alabama state line
North end at the South Carolina state line
CountiesHarris, Troup, Meriwether, Coweta, Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Banks, Franklin, Hart
Highway system
  • Georgia State Routes
SR 403 ->

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 (Atlanta's perimeter).

Route description

Alabama state line to Interstate 185

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.

From Interstate 185 through Atlanta

From LaGrange, I-85 heads northeastward towards Atlanta. Before reaching Atlanta, the highway runs through a recently widened stretch that includes six to eight lanes between exits 35 and 77, passing near the suburbs of Moreland, Newnan, Fairburn, Union City, College Park and East Point as well as intersecting I-285 at its southwest end and providing access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I-85 then runs along the northwestern boundary of the airport, 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.)

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

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. The Interstate has freeway interchanges with SR 316 in Duluth and I-985 in Suwanee, which provides a link to Gainesville. I-85 then leaves the Atlanta area, continuing to travel through rural northeast Georgia. At Lake Hartwell--which was formed by the damming of the Savannah River--I-85 crosses into South Carolina.

Express lanes

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.[3] Tolls are collected using an electronic toll collection system. All travelers that use the lane must have a Peach Pass sticker to avoid fines.[4][5] Starting in November 2014, SunPass (Florida) and NC Quick Pass (North Carolina) are interoperable with Peach Pass, allowing motorists with those transponders to use the express lanes.

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.[6]

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.[4] 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.[7][8]


Interstate 75 co-signed with Interstate 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.[9]

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).[10]

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.[11][12]

On October 1, 2011, GDOT converted the 16.0-mile (25.7 km) HOV lanes in Northern Atlanta into express/HOT lanes.[4]

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.[13] 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,[] (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.[14]

Exit list

CountyLocationmikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
Harris0.000.00 south - Lanett, MontgomeryContinuation into Alabama over the Chattahoochee River
TroupWest Point12 - West Point, Pine Mountain
6KIA BoulevardKia Car Plant
213 - LaGrangeTo Pegasus Parkway, an industrial and recreational bypass around Downtown LaGrange
LaGrange314 (SR 1) - LaGrange
418 - Greenville, Warm Springs, LaGrange
521 south (SR 411) - ColumbusTo Fort Benning
Hogansville628 /  - Hogansville, Luthersville
No major junctions
CowetaGrantville735 (SR 14) - Grantville, Moreland
Newnan841 /  - Newnan, Moreland, GreenvilleTo SR 16
44Poplar RoadExpected to be completed February 2019; to Piedmont Newnan Hospital
947 - Newnan, Peachtree City, ShenandoahTo business district
1051 (McCollum-Sharpsburg Road)
1156Collinsworth Road - Palmetto, Tyrone
FultonFairburn1261 - Fairburn, Peachtree City
Union City1364 - Union City, Jonesboro
College Park1466Flat Shoals RoadTo Georgia Military College
1568 (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[15]
16A69A (South Fulton Parkway)
College Park16B69B (Old National Highway)
1770 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) - Macon, Birmingham, ChattanoogaSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; to International Terminal
Clayton1871 (Riverdale Road) - Domestic
FultonCollege Park18A72 To west (Camp Creek Parkway) - Air Cargo, Domestic
East Point1973Virginia Avenue - Air Cargo, College ParkSigned as exits 73A (east) and 73B (west) northbound
2074 Loop Road - InternationalSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
Hapeville2175Sylvan Road / Central Avenue - Hapeville
Atlanta2276Cleveland Avenue - East PointTo Atlanta Technical College
2377 / / (Metropolitan Parkway)Southbound exit and northbound entrance
2477 (Langford Parkway)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
87 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).
88243 (Langford Parkway) - East Point
89244University Avenue / Pryor Street
90245Abernathy Boulevard / Capitol Avenue - Georgia State StadiumNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
91246Fulton Street / Central Avenue - Georgia State University, Georgia State Stadium
92247 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway / SR 402) - Augusta, Birmingham
----Memorial DriveHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
93248AML King Jr. Drive - State Capitol, Georgia State StadiumSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
94248BEdgewood Avenue, Auburn Avenue, J.W. Dobbs AvenueNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
96248C east (Freedom Parkway) / Andrew Young International Boulevard - Carter CenterWestern terminus of SR 10
95248DJesse Hill Drive, J.W. Dobbs Avenue, Edgewood AvenueSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
----PiedmontHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
97249ACourtland Street - Georgia State UniversitySouthbound exit only
98249BPine Street, Peachtree Street - Civic CenterNorthbound exit only
99249CWilliams Street - World Congress Center, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, AquariumNo northbound exit; additional HOV ramps for southbound exit and northbound entrance
100249D / (Spring Street / West Peachtree Street)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
100249D / / / (North Avenue) - Georgia TechSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
10125010th Street, 14th Street - Georgia TechNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
251A17th Street - MidtownNorthbound exit only
268417th Street, 14th Street, 10th StreetSouthbound exit only, to Georgia Tech
2785 north (SR 401) - Marietta, ChattanoogaNorthern end of I-75/SR 295 concurrency along the Downtown Connector; southern terminus of SR 295
2886 north (Buford Hwy)Northbound exit and southbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 13
----Lindbergh DriveHOV-only ramps; southbound exit and northbound entrance
2987 north - Buckhead, CummingNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 400
2886 north / south - Buckhead, Cumming, to Peachtree StreetSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; southern terminus of SR 400
3088Cheshire Bridge Road / Lenox RoadSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
DeKalbNorth Atlanta3189 (North Druid Hills Road)To Oglethorpe University
3291 / (Clairmont Road)To DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and Emory University
Doraville3393Shallowford Road - DoravilleTo Briarcliff Road
Chamblee3494Chamblee-Tucker Road, Mercer University
3595 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) - Augusta, Macon, Chattanooga, BirminghamSigned as exits 95A (east, Macon, Augusta) and 95B (west, Chattanooga, Birmingham) southbound
3696Northcrest Road / Pleasantdale Road
GwinnettNorcross3799 west (Jimmy Carter Boulevard)Eastern terminus of SR 140
38101Indian Trail-Lilburn Road
Lilburn39102 (Beaver Ruin Road) - Lilburn
39A103Steve Reynolds BoulevardNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
40104Pleasant Hill RoadGwinnett Place Mall
Lawrenceville42105 - Duluth, LawrencevilleNorthbound exit only
Lawrenceville41106 east - Lawrenceville, AthensNo southbound exit; additional northbound exit and southbound entrance ramps for direct HOT/express lane access; western terminus of SR 316
Lawrenceville42107 to east / Boggs Road - Duluth, LawrencevilleSouthbound exit only
108Sugarloaf ParkwaySouthbound exit is combined with exit 109.
43109Old Peachtree Road
44111 north - SuwaneeSouthern terminus of SR 317
Buford45113 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
Lawrenceville46115 - Lawrenceville, BufordTo Mall of Georgia
47120Hamilton Mill Road / Hamilton Mill Parkway
BarrowBraselton48126 - Winder
Jackson49129 - Braselton, Hoschton, WinderTo Michelin Raceway
Jefferson50137 /  - Gainesville, Jefferson
51140 (Dry Pond Road / Holly Springs Road)
Commerce52147 - Commerce, Maysville
BanksCommerce53149 - Commerce, Homer, Banks CrossingTo Atlanta Dragway
Commerce54154 (Martin Bridge Road) - Toccoa
Franklin55160 - Homer, Franklin Springs, Royston, Elberton
56164 - Carnesville
57166 /  - Carnesville, Toccoa
Lavonia58173 - Lavonia, Toccoa, Elberton
HartLake Hartwell59177 south - Hartwell, Lake HartwellNorthern terminus of SR 77
179.15288.31 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

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


  1. ^ State Highway Department of Georgia (1960). State Highway System and Other Principal Connection Roads (PDF) (Map) (1960-1961 ed.). Scale not given. Atlanta: State Highway Department of Georgia. OCLC 5673161. Retrieved 2016. (Corrected to June 1, 1960.)
  2. ^ 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 2016.
  3. ^ Georgia Department of Public Safety. "I-85 Express Lanes (HOT Lanes)". Georgia Department of Public Safety. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Georgia Department of Transportation. "I-85 Express Lanes". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on September 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ "100,000th Peach Pass Issued for Controversial HOT Lanes". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "I-85 Express Lanes: FAQ". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ McKee, Don. "Commuters getting hot about HOT lanes in metro Atlanta". The Marietta Daily Journal. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "HOT Lane Unhappiness: Some Drivers Say Congestion Worse". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on October 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "I-85 completed between LaGrange & Grantville".[full ]
  10. ^ "State Route 13 Page". Peach State Roads. Archived from the original on May 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007.[self-published source]
  11. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "Georgia's Interstate Exit Numbers". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on March 29, 2002. Retrieved 2007.
  12. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation. "Interstate 20 Exit Renumbering Page". Georgia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on June 5, 2002. Retrieved 2007.
  13. ^ Lavender, Rick. "Interstate 85 Through Hall? It Very Nearly Was Gov. Ernest Vandiver Redirected Highway Plans in 1950s". The Times. Gainesville, GA. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Georgia Department of Transportation (April 4, 2017). "Georgia DOT Aims to Reopen I-85 by June 15" (Press release). Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ "I-85 Bridge Collapse in Atlanta: What We Know, How to Detour Around Damages". USA Today. October 20, 2016. Retrieved 2017.

External links

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

Interstate 85
Previous state:
Georgia Next state:
South Carolina

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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