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Does I-285 suck?
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I-285 (proposed) North Carolina
I-285 is a proposed interstate designation for US 52 between I-85 near Lexington and I-40 in Winston-Salem. US 52 is currently a freeway here, and is already built to interstate standards except for some sections of shoulder. The proposed designation would give Winston-Salem another interstate leading to the city. 
This proposal is nearly identical to I-185, which would have followed Business 85 from I-85 to US 52, and then US 52 as in the I-285 plan. AASHTO rejected this submission in 2003.
Thanks to Lou Corsaro, who discovered I-285 on a map in the US 64/NC 49 project page: http://www.ncdot.org/projects/us64nc49corridor/study/. The map has since been edited to remove I-285, since that numbering was premature. However, in March 2004 a new planning map was published, showing I-285 in this location. 
63.98 miles ; full beltway around Atlanta. In October 1969, Gov. Lester Maddux opened the freeway, riding the hood of a convertible through a paper barrier. At the time, most of Interstates 16, 20, and 95 had not even been started. There's much more information, from Jim K. Georges, below.
Georgia is planning a six-lane collector-distributor (C/D) system, three lanes on a side, to parallel I-285 between I-75 and I-85 in North Metro Atlanta, as well as I-75 up to I-575 and I-85 up to I-985. Tom Marney writes that these extensive C/D lanes would act more as parallel freeways (or freeway widening) than untangling exit/entrance ramp interactions. There's more information at his Regional CD page.
From Jim K. Georges:
I-285 has a much greater impact than just that of an interstate or a by-pass, it is very much a fabric of everyday life in Metro Atlanta. Some of the worst traffic in the city resides here, property values fluctuate depending on which of I-285 side you are looking (and what part of town) and a telephone area code uses it as a boundary (inside I-285 is 90-95% devoted to the 404 area code). here are all the facts I could gather or found interesting on I-285...enjoy. Vital Statistics:
Officially Finished October 15, 1969 (4 lanes)
Original Cost $90 million
62.5 Miles (currently 8-10 lanes)
45 Numbered Exits (48 Actual interchanges, 3 partial)
8 Interstate Interchanges, 3 other freeway interchanges You do need a compass: I-285 north..south,east, west? It gets very confusing. The road should be labeled inner or outer loop/ring but that's too easy. Here's the directional guide to I-285..follow along with your maps.
East-West: On the Northside it ranges from Chamblee-Tucker Road/I-85 exits 26-27 to Cobb Pkwy (US 41)/I-75 Exits 13-14. (Both are massive interchanges and the exits run together in the same network of ramps). On the southside it extends from the I85/I-285 transition (Exit 1) to I-20 on th east side (exit 35). looking at a map you can easily fill in the blanks for north and south as the road actually runs the correct way. This is all very confusing to folks who aren't comfortable with the city and it's pure hell when giving directions.Construction
Construction began in early 1957; the first segments were in the northeast at the I-85 Jct. (the original bridge there was dated 1958) this segment also extended to the west across what is now referred to the "top end perimeter" to Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd. (original bridges were dated 1961)
The other segment being built at this time was on the southside near the airport, from Clark Howell Hwy to the eventual Airport Connector (I-85). Both these segments were open in the early 60's.
The next wave was from I-285 on the top end west to US 41, finished by 1964 and on the southside heading east to Jonesboro Road (Exit 40)
The next segments to open were natural extensions...on the southeast side, east to exit 35 (I-20) and on the west side, from the airport connector west where I285 and I-85 are multiplexed for about 1.5 Miles, then north to I-20 on the west side. Both sections opened in 1967.
The road was completed in 1969 as connections from I-20 to I-75 on the west and to I-85 on the east were done.Reconstruction:
Within 9 years of its completion, I-285 was in need of major upgrades. Atlanta was booming faster than anyone expected and the entire freeway system was deemed obsolete. I-285 was the first project in the massive $1.3 Billion "Freeing the Freeways" campaign. The Northern arc from I-75 to I-85 was widened to 8 lanes first (Upgraded to 10 lanes in 1996), with the south end of I-285 near the airport being widened to 10 lanes finished the project in 1989. Along with the extra lanes, all interstate interchanges were upgraded, some more than others. Interstate and Major Interchanges:
This is what really helps put the road in the big leagues with other 3di's (along with its traffic volume) The major interchanges are just that! Major structures that will quicken the heartbeat of those who love freeways and those who are scared to death of them.
Originally I-285/I85 in the northeast was a basic cloverleaf, I-285/I-85 at the airport was a trumpet and the other interchanges (I-20, I-75, I-85 Transition, Ga 400, US 78) were all the typical early-mid 60's wide-split roadways with many left exits and entrance ramps (didn't that engineer used to work in Connecticut?) More impressive than a cloverleaf but that isn't saying much.
During reconstruction here's what happened:
I-285/I-85 Transition-Exit 1 In the SW corner, this was upgraded big time with a collector-Distributor network to make multiplexing less confusing. Also the presence of GA Spur 14 added to the mass. One of the biggest interchanges area-wise in the southeast (if not the biggest) also has a Calif. style 70 foot 3 lane sweeping fly-over for good measure (carries I-285 south to east)
I-285/I-85 Airport Connector-Exit 44 originally a trumpet...now a deluxe trumpet with the collector/distributor lanes involved and a few long flyovers to boot.
I-285/I-85 Northeast-Exit 26 (Tom Moreland interchange - aka Spaghetti Junction) A personal favorite as I watched it rise from the antiquated cloverleaf over 6 years and $86 Million. Has 14 bridges, some as high as 90 feet above I-85. Technically looks more like a spread out stack than anything and when you incorporate the near-by exits and frontage roads you get...well Spaghetti! Possibly the most impressive interchange on the east coast- with a classic west coast look. This interchange handles roughly 300,000 cars a day split close to even on both roads.
I-285/I-20 East Exit 35..West Exit 7 Neither has been drastically upgraded from its original design except for a few extra ramps, lanes or shifts here and there. Both still incorporate left exits and entrances and probably the least used interstate interchanges on I-285.
I-285/I-75 North Exit 14...South Exit 42 Same as I-20 where the original designs have been incorporated in to the upgrade but the upgrades are major. On both, 6 lane roadways have been built through the wide medians while the original roads have become collector distributor ramps (still exiting on the left in places). The interchange on the northside is most impressive due to the nearby exits and rugged terrain. I-75 S to I-285 E is made up of a long 90-100 foot high fly-over and the volume of traffic in that area requires some collector distributor ramps to be a wide as 4 lanes going one way. The interchange is getting some upgrades as we speak due to the new Kennedy parkway being built 1/2 Mile to the south.
I-285/I-675 Exit 38 (Mid 80's) Kind of a cross between a trumpet and a half- stack. I-675 ends at I-285 but its exit ramps to the west also serve exit 39.
I-285/Lakewood Fwy - Exit 4 a 3/4 cloverleaf with a small fly over ramp..no changes from its original mid 60's design
I-285/Stone Mountain Fwy - Exit 30 Same as I-20, a few upgrades over the years. Transition with US 29 at Exit 29 was last major work finished in 1996.
I-285/GA 400 - Exit 19 Still in its original 1969 design (built after that part of I-285 was finished) and woefully inadequate. Plans are on the board for a major LA style upgrade. Factor in the proposed collector-distributor lanes on 400 and the fact the overall area is heavily congested and you get the idea that this could be HUGE!Control Cities:
Unlike I-495 around Boston and I-695 around Baltimore, I-285 uses no local cities as control cities..the closest one is 80 miles away. I-285's control cities are that of its intersecting interstate...here is the list.
I-20 East (Augusta-135 Miles)
I-20 West (Birmingham 145 Miles)
I-75 North (Chattanooga 105 Miles)
I-75 South (Macon 80 Miles, Tampa 450 Miles)
I-85 South (Montgomery 140 Miles)
I-85 North (Greenville SC 130 Miles)
I-675 South (Macon - Connects with I-75 South) More Interesting facts about I-285
-I-285 Was originally designed to by-pass Atlanta but now is more of a main thoroughfare as 38 Million square feet of office space (some of them of the high-rise variety) has sprung up along the northern arc from Exit 21 (Ashford- Dunwoody rd) to Exit 13 (Cobb Pkwy US 41) in the last 20 years. I-285 has become crucial for suburb to suburb commuting, the By-pass traffic (mostly trucks) turn this in to a daily nightmare during rush hour.
-Reconstruction cost ($355 Million) almost 4 times what the road originally cost ($90 Million)
-Road was proposed to be named after Nelson Mandela in 1990 by a DOT board member...the idea was quickly discarded.
-In August 1982, during the heat of the pennant race newly acquired Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Perez got lost by circling I-285 TWICE on a night he was scheduled to start giving him the nickname "I-285". Perez missed his start and the Braves won the game.
-The busiest area of I-285 is between Exits 22 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd and Exit 23 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Handling over 230,000 vehicles a day.The Future ?
In 1989 the GA DOT proposed a $1.2 Billion commuter lane project for I-285. The project would have added 4 lanes total to I-285 yet they would have had their own exits and entrances. the lanes would have run from US 41 on the NW side (Exit 13) to Lavista Road on the east (Exit 28). I have not heard anymore about this sense but it sure seems like a good idea. In fact it ought to be extended south to Memorial Drive (Exit 32). The northern arc was just widened to 10 lanes in 1996 and aside from the GA 400 interchange upgrade I dont know of any other plans to improve I-285. There is always wild talk about putting a rapid-rail line along side of I-285 but I doubt that will ever happen...the GA DOT likes roads too much and Atlantans love thier cars even more.
The proposed Outer Perimeter would take a lot of the truck presence off I-285 but that's very iffy right now as the environmentalists seem to be winning that battle.