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I-785 (future)  Virginia; North Carolina (link)

This is a future renumbering for 47.22 miles of US 29 between I-85 in Greensboro, NC and US 58 in Danville, Va. [8note] According to the NHS legislation, the entire US 29 corridor up to I-66 is geared for interstatehood. [2note] [3note] However, Virginia DOT plans call for a parkway treatment with at-grade intersections for portions of US 29. [7note]


On November 8, 1996, the Danville [Va.] City Council drafted a resolution supporting designation of U.S. Route 29 from I-85/40 to US 58 as Interstate 785, and to spend some money promoting this. On Nov. 14, 1997, AASHTO approved this number, pending FHWA approval of the route itself. [8note] On May 22, 1998, Congress passed a bill including this redesignation. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch (thanks to Hunter Atkinson) [4note]:

The highway and mass transit bill approved Friday night by Congress renames U.S. 29 from Danville to Greensboro, N.C., as Interstate 785.

The segment will be designated as 'future' until the road is upgraded to interstate standards in North Carolina. Money for the upgrades was not included in the legislation.

"This will allow the interstate shields to be posted, as a welcome sign to business, said Rep. Virgil Goode, D-5th.

Danville Mayor Linwood Wright said the designation would help attract businesses to the area who might otherwise overlook a city not on the interstate system.

On June 29, 1998, the change was announced at a welcome center in Pelham, N.C, and the "Future 785" signs were unveiled. [5note] [6note]

Tight money means I-785 languishes

As of mid-2004, however, few physical upgrades to future I-785 had taken place, because of a lack of funding. An NCDOT official said widening US 29 was "on the radar screen", but the state "didn't have a real good schedule." His Virginia counterpart was more succinct: there was "no news" to report: "no project listed in the current or working draft [road plan] and, therefore, no studies, construction, design or other work under way." [9note]


Useful information ends here, but the derision given the 785 idea by the Reidsville, N. C. Neely Chronicle web site is was quite entertaining (it's now gone):

Looks like folks in Neely are starting to get a little nervous about the local economy in spite of reassuring words from their Community Development Director about the new fast food restaurant coming to Scales Street... What's wrong with you people in Neely? Don't you know we're getting a Wendy's Hamburger on Scales St? Have you forgotten about the new video store and pharmacy? Doesn't anyone realize what renaming U.S 29 to I-785 will do for this area?

...Neely City Manager Almond stated "Many maps circulated around only have interstates so, if you're not on an interstate, you're not on the map. Calling any road an interstate makes people more inclined to visit communities along the way." (note: Cease happens to be a bit of a map fanatic and does not recall ever seeing a road map with nothing but interstate highways nor does he ever remember seeing a road map that did not show U.S. 29 and Reidsville. Such a map would be pretty useless to most anyone.) The name change is expected to revive safety, finance, medicine, education and business in Neely. It's truly amazing what a few signs can do. Why didn't we do this year's ago? I still think we should rename the town to Paris, France.

...If just renaming a highway is going to boost our economy, then why didn't we rename it 20 years ago? ...By the way, did you know that we already have an interstate highway in (or on) Neely County? I didn't know until Bill Goldston said "it took us four years to get I-73 on the western part of the county." I'm not sure if he really said "on" or if the [Reidsville] Review just made him say "on." Anyway let's assume he said or meant to say "in." OK, so where is interstate I-73? I can't find it "in" any current map and I know the reason for renaming these highways to Interstates is so businesses can find them "in" the map and immediately pack up and move to Neely. Can someone help us locate I-73 "on" Neely County?

Now don't y'all go looking for Neely or Neely County on a map. Try Reidsville and Rockingham County.

See also:


  1. King, Michael
  2. Manning, Bill
  3. Atkinson, Hunter. "I-785 (VA/NC)." Email to Kurumi, May 28, 1998.
  4. Caswell County [N.C.] site
  5. Newscast, WDBJ-TV, June 29, 1998
  6. Froehlig, Adam. "FYI (re: your I-785 page)." Personal email, Feb. 2, 2002.
  7. AASHTO SCOH. Report to the Special Committee on Route Numbering to the Executive Committee. Nov. 15, 1997.
  8. "Danville's I-785 signs await road." News and Advance [Lynchburg, Va.], June 8, 2004.