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Interstate 85 in North Carolina: Wikis


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Interstate 85 shield
Interstate 85
Main route of the Interstate Highway System
Length: 233 mi (374.98 km)
South end: I-85.svg I-85 at South Carolina state line
US 74 / US 29 near Kings Mountain
US 321 in Gastonia
I-485 in Charlotte (twice)
I-77 in Charlotte
US 52 near Lexington
I-85 Bus. near Lexington
I-73 in Greensboro
US 421 in Greensboro
I-40 east of Greensboro and west of Durham
US 15 / US 501 in Durham
US 1 in Henderson
North end: I-85 at Virginia state line
North Carolina highways
< NC 84 NC 86 >

In North Carolina, Interstate 85 scales the state for 233 miles (337 kilometers) from the South Carolina border to the Virginia border. As the second-longest interstate in the state (behind Interstate 40), it provides an important link between the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, Charlotte, Greensboro, Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C..


Route description

I-85 enters the state from Cherokee County, South Carolina near Grover in Cleveland County. After only a few miles, the highway enters Gaston County, which is part of the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Near Kings Mountain, I-85 turns from a northeast trajectory to an eastward one and goes through Gastonia before crossing the Catawba River and entering Charlotte. At Gastonia, the highway widens from four to six lanes and keeps the number of lanes until it reaches Belmont, where the highway widens again to eight lanes.

In Charlotte, I-85 passes north of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and goes by a number of retail centers before turning northeastward again just west of Uptown Charlotte. The highway bypasses the downtown area, but several exits do provide access to the area. A partial wrong-way interchange exists at the exit with Interstate 77 north of Uptown.

The highway actually lies within the city limits of Charlotte for most of its route through Mecklenburg County. As a result, none of the exit signs list "Charlotte" as a destination for the intersecting routes. This can be confusing to motorists not familiar with the region, who often don't realize that they are actually within the city limits of Charlotte when searching for an exit that will take them to Bank of America Stadium, Time Warner Cable Arena, or other destinations in Uptown Charlotte. The route through Charlotte traverses a heavily commercialized section of the city that is more suburban than urban in character, with light industry such as truck terminals, warehouses, small manufacturing facilities, and small office parks lining the highway.

After Charlotte, I-85 continues northeastward into Cabarrus County, passing by the cities of Concord and Kannapolis. It drops from 8 lanes to 4 lanes between exit 49 (near Lowe's Motor Speedway and Concord Mills Mall) and exit 68 near the Rowan County town of China Grove, at which point it increases to 8 lanes again.

Approximately 70 miles (110 km) northeast of the Charlotte area is the Triad area, anchored by the cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point. I-85 bypasses High Point and also largely bypasses Greensboro. Up until February 2004, I-85 went through the heart of Greensboro and joined Interstate 40 near downtown. Today, I-85 is routed along the Greensboro Urban Loop and meets I-40 east of downtown. Its former route is now known as Business 85.

Interstates 85 and 40 remain joined as they continue eastward to the Triangle region, anchored by the cities of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. West of Durham near Hillsborough, the two highways split, with I-40 heading southeast toward Chapel Hill and Raleigh while I-85 continues eastward through Durham, then northeastward as it exits the city. The highway bypasses Oxford and Henderson before crossing into Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

Interstate 85 passing through Durham, North Carolina.


Parts of Interstate 85 were already constructed before federal aid was available in the 1950s, as the state had been constructing sections of the Interstate Highway System since 1949. The Lexington Bypass south of Lexington - which at the time was signed U.S. 29 and U.S. 70 - is now a part of I-85.[1]

The first section of I-85 opened to traffic on September 9, 1958 when an 11.3-mile (18.2 km) stretch in Mecklenburg County was opened.

The year 1960 saw several sections of the highway open to traffic:[1]

  • An 18.3-mile (29.5 km) section of Interstate 85 between Henderson and the Virginia border as well as a 46-mile (74 km) section between Greensboro and western Durham opened to traffic.
  • A 15.4-mile (24.8 km) portion of the U.S. 29/U.S. 70 Salisbury Bypass between Salisbury and Greensboro was incorporated into I-85 when further grade separations and access control was completed
  • A 14-mile (23 km) segment of I-85 known as the "Charlotte Bypass" in Charlotte.
  • A 13.8-mile (22.2 km) segment between Greensboro and Whisett.

By 1965, I-85 from the South Carolina border to Charlotte was complete, while it took until 1970 for the section between Charlotte and Durham to be completed. However, the "Temporary 85" designation would remain on the segment between Lexington and Greensboro until 1984 because there were too many access roads. That year, a new six-lane section opened, resulting in the "Temporary 85" designation to be dropped.[2]

Since its completion, many widening projects have been undertaken on I-85, particularly along the stretch of highway between Gastonia and Durham. In addition, Interstate 85 has recently been relocated onto the new, but unfinished Greensboro Urban Loop in the Greensboro area, having through traffic bypass that city's downtown area.

Auxiliary routes

Exit list

County Location # Destinations Notes
Cleveland 2 NC 216Kings Mountain National Military Park
4 US 29 south (NC 216) South end of US 29 overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance
5 Dixon School Road
8 NC 161Kings Mountain
Gaston 10 US 29 north / US 74Kings Mountain, Shelby North end of US 29 overlap; signed as exits 10A (north/east) and 10B (west)
13 Edgewood Road - Bessemer City
Gastonia 14 NC 274 – East Bessemer City, West Gastonia
17 US 321Gastonia, Lincolnton
19 NC 7 – East Gastonia
20 NC 279 (New Hope Road) – Dallas
21 Cox Road - Ranlo
22 Cramerton, Lowell
23 NC 7Lowell, McAdenville
Bridge over the South Fork of the Catawba River
26 Mount Holly, Belmont, Belmont Abbey College (NC 7) Former NC 273
27 NC 273Belmont, Mount Holly
Bridge over the Catawba River (Lake Wylie)
29 Sam Wilson Road
30 I-485 to I-77Pineville Signed as exits 30A (south) and 30B (north) westbound
Charlotte 32 Little Rock Road
33 Billy Graham Parkway (Route 4) - Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
34 NC 27 (Freedom Drive) / Tuckaseegee Road
35 Glenwood Drive
36 NC 16 (Brookshire Boulevard) to US 74 east – Downtown Charlotte
37 Beatties Ford Road - Johnson C. Smith University
38 I-77 / US 21Statesville, Columbia
39 Statesville Avenue/Road Former US 21
40 Graham Street
41 Sugar Creek Road (Route 4)
42 To US 29 / NC 49 Northbound exit and southbound entrance
43 City Boulevard
45 NC 24 (Harris Boulevard) Signed as exits 45A (east) and 45B (west)
46 Mallard Creek Church Road Signed as exits 46A (east) and 46B (west) northbound
48 I-485 south - Rock Hill
Cabarrus Concord 49 Speedway Boulevard, Concord Mills Boulevard
52 Poplar Tent Road
54 George W. Liles Parkway, Kannapolis Parkway
55 NC 73Concord, Huntersville
58 US 29 / US 601 south – Kannapolis, Concord South end of US 601 overlap
60 Dale Earnhardt Boulevard, Copperfield Boulevard
63 Kannapolis
Rowan 68 US 29 / NC 152China Grove, Rockwell This exit is split and signed differently depending on direction. The exit from northbound I-85 and entrance to southbound I-85 connects directly to NC 152. As northbound I-85 approaches this exit, the exit signs show the route number "NC 152". The exit from southbound I-85 and entrance to northbound I-85 is via a 4 lane unsigned connector that has an interchange with NC 152 and US 29. As southbound I-85 approaches this exit, the exit signs show the route numbers "NC 152" and "US 29". The exit from southbound I-85 is located approximately one-half mile north of the exit from northbound I-85. The northern portion of this exit is the south end of the 8 lane portion of the highway and the north end of the 4 lane portion of the highway.
70 Webb Road
71 Peeler Road
72 Peach Orchard Road
74 Julian Road
Salisbury 75 US 601 north (Jake Alexander Boulevard) – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College North Campus North end of US 601 overlap
76 US 52 south – Albemarle, Salisbury South end of US 52 overlap; forrmerly signed as exits 76A (south) and 76B (north) but was changed into a SPUI during the I-85 expansion.
79 Spencer, East Spencer
81 Spencer
Bridge over the Yadkin River
82 US 29 south / US 70 west / NC 150 west – Spencer South end of US 29/US 70/NC 150 overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance
83 NC 150 east North end of NC 150 overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance
85 Clark Road
86 Belmont Road
87 I-85 Bus. north / US 52 north (US 29 north, US 70 east) – Lexington, Winston-Salem North end of US 29/US 52/US 70 overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance
Lexington 88 NC 47 east – High Rock Lake, Linwood
91 NC 8Lexington, Southmont
94 Old US 64
96 US 64Asheboro, Lexington
Thomasville 102 Lake Road
103 NC 109Thomasville
Randolph 106 Finch Farm Road
108 Hopewell Church Road - Trinity
111 US 311Archdale, Downtown High Point
Guilford 113 NC 62Archdale
118 I-85 Bus. south / US 29 south / US 70 west – High Point South end of I-85 Bus./US 29/US 70 overlap
119 Groometown Road to Grandover Parkway Signed as exit 122A southbound
120A I-85 Bus. north / US 29 north / US 70 east – Greensboro North end of I-85 Bus./US 29/US 70 overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance
120B I-73 north / US 421 north to I-40 west – Winston-Salem Signed as exit 121 southbound; south end of US 421 overlap
122 US 220Greensboro, Asheboro Southbound exit and northbound entrance; signed as exits 122B (south) and 122C (north); future I-73 south
124 South Elm-Eugene Street
126 US 421 south – Sanford Signed as exits 126A (US 421 South) and 126B (to Greensboro); north end of US 421 overlap
128 Alamance Church Road
129 Youngs Mill Road
131 I-40 west / I-85 Bus. south to US 70 (via I-840) – Greensboro, Winston-Salem South end of I-40 overlap
132 Mount Hope Church Road
135 Rock Creek Dairy Road
138 NC 61Gibsonville
Alamance 140 University Drive - Elon
Burlington 141 Huffman Mill Road
143 NC 62Downtown Burlington, Alamance
145 NC 49Downtown Burlington, Liberty
Graham 147 NC 87Graham, Pittsboro
148 NC 54Chapel Hill, Carrboro
Bridge over the Haw River
150 Haw River
152 Trollingwood Road
153 NC 119Mebane
154 Mebane-Oaks Road - Mebane
Orange 157 Buckhorn Road
160 Efland
161 To US 70 / NC 86 north
163 I-40 east – Raleigh North end of I-40 overlap
164 Hillsborough Old NC 86
165 NC 86Chapel Hill, Hillsborough
170 US 70 west West end of US 70 overlap; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
170 To NC 751 (US 70 Bus. east) – Duke University Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Durham Durham 172 NC 147 south – Downtown Durham, Research Triangle ParkNorth Carolina Central University Northbound exit and southbound entrance
173 Cole Mill Road
174B US 15 south / US 501 south – Chapel Hill South end of US 15/US 501 overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance
174A Hillandale Road
175 NC 157 (Guess Road)
176A North Gregson Street
176B US 501 north (Duke Street) – Roxboro North end of US 501 overlap
US 15 Bus. south / US 501 Bus. (North Roxboro Street) / NC 55 east (Avondale Drive) –North Carolina Central University
178 US 70 east – RDU Airport, Raleigh North end of US 70 overlap
179 East Club Boulevard
180 Glenn School Road
182 Red Mill Road
183 Redwood Road
Bridge over the Neuse River (Falls Lake)
Granville 186 US 15 north – Creedmoor, Butner North end of US 15 overlap; signed as exits 186A (US 15) and 186B (Butner) northbound, and as exit 186 southbound
189 Butner
191 NC 56Butner, Creedmoor
202 US 15Oxford, Clarksville
204 NC 96Oxford
206 US 158Oxford, Roxboro
Vance 209 Poplar Creek Road
Henderson 212 Ruin Creek Road
213 Dabney Drive - Henderson Northbound exit and southbound entrance
213 No image.svgBy-pass plate.svgNo image.svg
US 158 Byp. west / Dabney Drive
South end of US 158 Byp. overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance
214 NC 39Downtown Henderson
215 No image.svgBy-pass plate.svgNo image.svg
US 158 Byp. east
North end of US 158 Byp. overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance
215 Parham Road No northbound exit
217 Satterwhite Point
218 US 1 south – Raleigh Southbound exit and northbound entrance
220 US 1 / US 158 / Fleming Road – Norlina
Warren 223 Manson Road
226 Ridgeway Road
229 Oine Road
233 US 1 / US 401 – Wise, Norlina


  1. ^ a b North Carolina Department of Transportation. Facts: Interstate 85, Page 1. NCDOT Web site. Accessed April 21, 2007.
  2. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation. Facts: Interstate 85, Page 2. NCDOT Web site. Accessed April 21, 2007.

External links

Interstate 85
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