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Photo: I-85 entering North Carolina at Grover (Mapmikey)
|I-85 233 miles|
Begins at the South Carolina State line at Grover (Cleveland County) and ends at the Virginia State Line near Norlina (Warren County).
Nationally I-85 runs from I-65 Montgomery AL to I-95 Petersburg VA
|Towns and Attractions:||Cleveland Co.: Kings Mountain
Gaston Co.: Gastonia, McAdenville, Belmont
Mecklenburg Co.: Charlotte
Cabarrus Co.: Concord, Kannapolis
Rowan Co.: China Grove, Salisbury
Davidson Co.: Lexington, Thomasville
Randolph Co.: Archdale
Guilford Co.: High Point, Greensboro
Alamance Co.: Burlington, Graham
Orange Co.: Hillsborough
Durham Co.: Durham
Granville Co.: Butner, Oxford
Vance Co.: Henderson
Warren Co.: None
Many of the following timelines are from North Carolina's I-85 entry on their 50th anniversary of interstates website.
I-85 was an original 1957 interstate.
The first segment to open was in Sept 1958 from Little Rock Rd to the US 29 Connector (Bypass of Charlotte)
In 1959, I-85 was open from China Grove to NC 150 north of the Yadkin River
In 1960 the following segments were open:
1. US 29 to US 74 (Kings Mtn bypass)
2. NC 273 to Little Rock Rd
3. Yadkin River to Greensboro (this was the 4-laned US 29-70 from the early 1950s that now had enough grade separations to be called I-85)
4. Greensboro to Efland (this was a Super-2 alignment of US 70 from about 1957)
5. Henderson to US 1 at the Virginia Line (may have been NC 293 briefly).
The 1961 Official shows I-85 open from the South Carolina line to US 29 (exit 4); also from Efland to the east end of the Durham Bypass. Note that the segment from the Yadkin River to Greensboro was shown as I-85 TEMP on the 1961 official map.
The 1963 Official shows I-85 open from US 29-74 Connector east of Gastonia to NC 273
The 1964 Official shows I-85 open from US 29-74 Kings Mtn to the US 29-74 Connector (Gastonia Bypass).
The 1966 Official shows I-85 open from US 1 across the Virginia line and also US 70 east of Durham north to the US 15 North split.
The 1970 Official shows I-85 open from US 29-601 Concord to China Grove.
The 1971 Official shows I-85 open from the US 29 Connector that is now part of I-485 to US 29-601 Concord; also from US 15 Oxford to Henderson (from US 15 to US 158 Oxford had been built as a bypass of Oxford designated US 158-A in the late 1950s).
The 1972 Official shows I-85 open between the two US 29 Connectors northeast of Charlotte.
Also in 1972, I-85 was shown open between US 15 north of Durham and US 15 Oxford. This completed I-85 in North Carolina except for the portion designated as I-85 Temp through Thomasville, Lexington, and High Point. Notably, from 1972 onward, I-85 Temp was no longer shown as an interstate on officials...just a 4-lane road. From 1961-71 this was shown as an interstate.
In 1984, I-85 was built between the Yadkin River area and north of High Point, alleviating the need of an I-85 Temp designation.
In 2005, I-85 was placed on the new southern beltway of Greensboro, leaving behind I-85 Business.
The NCDOT 50th anniversary page notes that in 1963, NCDOT requested three interstate corridors described as spurs of I-85: what is now NC 147, the east end connector and US 70 back to I-85; I-40 from NC 147 and over Wade Ave to the Raleigh Beltline; US 220 between I-85 Bus and I-40 plus still unbuilt roadway north to Lee Ave.
I-85 crosses over itself for around 3 miles between US 64 and NC 109 in Davidson County. Presumably this was because Hamby Creek was in the way. There is a left exit rest area in both directions along this segment, but because of the creek, they are two totally separate rest areas, unlike most left exit rest areas that build a slightly larger rest area to accomodate both sides.
I-85 is easily North Carolina's most important highway as it connects several large NC economic centers and cities. It won't be much longer before it will be at least 6 lanes nearly continuously from Gastonia to Durham. It is 8 lanes from east of Greensboro to Hillsborough.
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