Interstate 485

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Interstate 485 marker

Interstate 485
Charlotte Outerbelt
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length:59 mi[1] (95 km)
Existed:1988 – present
Major junctions
Beltway around Charlotte
  US 29 / US 74 near Belmont
I‑85 near Belmont
I‑77 in Huntersville
I‑85 near Concord
US 29 near Concord
US 74 in Matthews
US 521 near Pineville
I‑77 / US 21 near Pineville
Highway system
NC 481I‑495
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This article is about the freeway in North Carolina. For the two unbuilt highways in the US state of Georgia, see Interstate 485 (Georgia).

Interstate 485 marker

Interstate 485
Charlotte Outerbelt
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length:59 mi[1] (95 km)
Existed:1988 – present
Major junctions
Beltway around Charlotte
  US 29 / US 74 near Belmont
I‑85 near Belmont
I‑77 in Huntersville
I‑85 near Concord
US 29 near Concord
US 74 in Matthews
US 521 near Pineville
I‑77 / US 21 near Pineville
Highway system
NC 481I‑495

Interstate 485 (I-485) is a nearly completed beltway around Charlotte, North Carolina; it is part of the Interstate Highway System.

Route description[edit]

The western, southern and eastern segments of the beltway are complete and open to traffic. The current path runs west from NC 115 (Old Statesville Road), crosses I-77 turns south and crosses I-85 near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport then continues counter-clockwise back to I-85 near the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the city of Concord and Concord Mills, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, crossing I-77 again south of uptown Charlotte. During rush hour, this newly opened roadway is an easy, but long, way around the I-77/I-85 interchange in north Charlotte.

Although the loop runs within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of the South Carolina state line, and within 20 feet (6.1 m) of the Cabarrus County line at the Rocky River Road exit, the entire Outerbelt is within Mecklenburg County's boundaries, and never crosses into South Carolina or any neighboring counties. The Outerbelt traverses the towns of Mint Hill, Matthews, Pineville, and Huntersville. This will be the first "true" loop road around Charlotte, since the present I-277 freeway is an inner business loop around uptown Charlotte.

Orientation and signage[edit]

Since Interstate 485, when completed, will be a beltway, the compass orientation of the freeway is not uniform around the loop. To remedy the uniformity issue, the inner/outer orientation system was implemented and became the primary method of signing the direction of travel around the loop. Some sections of the loop are signed with additional north/south or east/west labels (depending on the general direction of travel along a particular stretch) to aid drivers familiar with compass directions. Usually when both systems are utilized on signs, the compass directional banner is placed above the number shield and the inner/outer banner is placed below.[2] Officials originally decided to use only "north" and "south" compass directions when signing the route, but because this would be confusing with multiple "norths" and "souths", "inner" and "outer" designations were included. Although "east" and "west" signs exist, these will be phased out in favor of "inner" and "outer" designations.[3]

Traffic traveling in a clockwise direction around the city of Charlotte is on the "Inner" loop and traffic traveling in a counterclockwise direction is on the "Outer" loop.[4] This system can be confusing, but it is logical; since traffic in the United States generally travels on the right side of the road, the clockwise traveling lanes will always be the "Inner" lanes of a loop.[2]

There are three control cities along the route: Huntersville, Matthews and Pineville. Secondary control cities, which include Spartanburg, Statesville, Greensboro and Columbia, are also listed at various interchanges for travelers that want to bypass Charlotte to other destinations, via Interstates 77 and 85.

Dedicated and memorial names[edit]

I-485 in North Carolina is split into four dedicated or memorialized stretches of freeway.

Volume and capacity[edit]

As of 2006, approximately 24 miles (39 km) of I-485 between NC 51 (Exit 65) and NC 24-27 (Exit 41), has four travel lanes. Volume on this section varies widely from a maximum of 120,000 vehicles per day (vpd) east of NC 51 to a 50,000 vpd south of NC 24.

Approximately 10 miles (16 km) of I-485 between NC 24/NC 27 (Exit 41) and I-85 (Exit 31) has between six and eight travel lanes. Volume on this section varies between 50,000 vpd and 55,000 vpd.

Approximately 10 miles (16 km) of I-485 between I-77 (Exit 67) and I-85 (Exit 10) has between six and eight travel lanes. Volume on this section varies between 50,000 and 80,000 vpd.

Volume on the southern section of I-485 regularly exceeds capacity during peak travel times, particularly between I-77 (Exit 67) and NC 16 (Exit 57). Many of the interchanges in this area were designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic, particular the massive interchange with I-77. However, with only two travel lanes in each direction, I-485 does a poor job of handling through traffic when volume is heavy.


NC 24 end at I-485, in Charlotte

The first section of what would become Interstate 485 was completed around 1967, connecting a newly opened section of I-85 with US 29 near the Cabarrus-Mecklenburg county line.[6][7] This section became a part of Interstate 485 on May 5, 1999, the first section of the highway on the north end of the county.[8]

In 1975, planning began for the Charlotte outerbelt.[9]

On July 8, 1988, Gov. Jim Martin and state transportation secretary Seddon Goode attended a groundbreaking near US 521, marking the start of construction on the first 1.3-mile (2.1 km) section between US 521 and NC 51. Martin also announced the designation "Interstate 485" for what had previously been called the outerbelt.[10] The section opened November 1, 1990, two months earlier than planned.[11] Still, because of all the development in the area, the highway immediately became inadequate for the area's needs and required widening.[12]

A 2.6-mile (4.2 km), $67.2 million section of I-485 from US 521 to I-77 opened October 24, 1994. The section included a four-level interchange at I-77.[13] On December 9, 1994, the section from NC 51 to Rea Road opened.[14]

On July 1, 1997, a $13.9 million 2-mile (3.2 km) section of I-485 opened between I-77 and NC 49, a section designated The Seddon "Rusty" Goode Jr. Freeway, named for a member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation who helped decide where I-485 would be built.[15]

On August 15, 1997, 2.3 miles (3.7 km) of I-485 opened between Rea Road and NC 16 (Providence Road).[16] An $8.6 million 1.4-mile (2.3 km) section from NC 49 to Brown-Grier Road in the Steele Creek community opened in two stages August 26 and 27; the name of Brown-Grier Road changed to Arrowood Road when that road was extended.[17] Seven more miles opened September 15, connecting NC 16 to U.S. 74.[18]

After the upgrade to the section between I-85 and US 29 was finished in May 1999, the section from US 29 to NC 49 opened August 13, 1999.[19] 2.3 miles from U.S. 74 to Idlewild Road opened in December 1999.[8][20]

A $10.2 million, 3-mile (4.8 km) section opened between Idlewild Road and Lawyers Road in Mint Hill In June 2000.[21]

By 2003, new sections were designed with six lanes. Despite the need to widen older sections of the highway to six lanes, other priorities were higher. A 2000 policy prevented the state from using trust fund money, a major source of funding for new projects, to widen existing roads.[12]

A 7.5-mile (12.1 km), $55.4 million section opened September 3, 2003. It was hoped that 12.5 miles (20.1 km) could open, connecting NC 49 to Lawyers Road, but only the section north of NC 27 (Albemarle Road) opened at that time.[22] I-485 reached an important milestone November 19, 2003, when the last 5 miles (8.0 km) opened between. I-485 finally connected I-85 on the north end of Charlotte to I-77 on the south end. In all, the outerbelt stretched 37 miles (60 km).[9]

On October 19, 2004, I-485 reached another milestone, with a $100 million, 7-mile (11 km) section opening from Arrowood Road to I-85 west of Charlotte. The outerbelt provided a connection between I-77 south of the city to I-85 and would relieve traffic on Billy Graham Parkway.[23]

2.3 miles (3.7 km) from I-85 to NC 27 (Mount Holly Road) opened December 15, 2006.[24] 1.5-mile (2.4 km) section, from NC 27 to NC 16 (Brookshire Boulevard), opened on May 9, 2007.[25] I-485 reached I-77 as 5.5 miles (8.9 km) opened December 4, 2008 more than a year late between NC 16 and NC 115.[26]

The final segment, from I-77 to I-85 near UNC Charlotte, has begun the Right of Way Acquisition phase with contracts awarded in June 2010.[27][28]

Widening to six lanes of the 9.2-mile (14.8 km) section from Rea Road to I-77 began in 2013. The $83.3 million project is expected to be complete in December 2015.[29]


Governor Bev Perdue was pushing to have the final section of the loop (connecting NC 115 to I-85) started in the year 2009 and completed within three years, possibly utilizing funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This project will coincide with a planned widening of I-85 through Cabarrus County and convert the current trumpet interchange (exit 48 off I-85), from what was originally planned as a stack interchange, into a turbine interchange.[27]

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has proposed to build additional travel and auxiliary lanes along the southern section of I-485 between US 521/Johnston Road (exit 61) and I-77/US 21 (exit 67). Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2012.[30] On November 18, 2011, it was reported in the local news that NCDOT is considering adding another toll lane along the current project, making it eight travel lanes and extend the widening project from four to six travel lanes from Providence Road (exit 57) to US 521/Johnston Road (exit 61). The new toll lane would use the electronic toll collection system, same as used on the Triangle Expressway. It is unknown at this time if it will be a toll only lane or a HOT lane.[31]

In addition, NCDOT is planning to convert the existing grade separation at Weddington Road (located between exit 57 and exit 52) to an interchange beginning in 2013. The proposed design is a folded-diamond style interchange with all four ramps located to one side of the existing grade separation, similar to the existing interchange of I-485 & NC 24/NC 27. The westbound (inner) ramps are proposed to intersect Weddington Road directly opposite Plantation Drive. The future interchange will likely be designated Exit 54.

Exit list[edit]

Mile numbering on Interstate 485 is set up for when the freeway is a completed loop. Numbering begins at Interstate 77 south of Charlotte and continues clockwise to NC 115 (Old Statesville Rd) on the Northeast side of Charlotte. The road ends there for now. I-485 begins again at Interstate 85 northeast of Charlotte, and continues as if the road had not ended, at mile 31 (in reality, an 8-mile (13 km) gap exists between the two exits), and continues to I-77 at mile 67.

The entire route is in Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte1.62.61 NC 49 (S. Tryon Street)
3.04.83Arrowood Road
4.47.14 NC 160 (Steele Creek Road) – Fort MillPartial cloverleaf interchange
 6.09.76West Boulevard
 9.415.19 US 29 / US 74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) – Charlotte/Douglas International AirportExit is part of exit 10 southbound
 10.016.110 I‑85 – Greensboro, SpartanburgSigned as exits 10A (north) and 10B (south) on exit collector lanes; stack interchange
Charlotte11.819.012Moores Chapel RoadDouble roundabout interchange
13.020.914 NC 27 (Mount Holly Road)
15.625.116 NC 16 (Brookshire Boulevard) – NewtonPartial cloverleaf interchange
Oakdale RoadFuture interchange (unfunded, partially constructed)[33]
20.633.221 NC 24 east (Harris Boulevard)Partial cloverleaf interchange, to Northlake Mall
Huntersville22.035.423 I‑77 – Charlotte, StatesvilleSigned as exits 23A (south) and 23B (north) southbound; stack interchange
23.037.023C NC 115 (Old Statesville Road)Inner/northbound exit and outer/southbound entrance
Charlotte26Prosperity Ridge Road / Prosperity Church Road / Benfield RoadFuture double roundabout interchange (under construction, to be completed Spring, 2015)[27][34]
Mallard Creek RoadFuture diverging diamond interchange (under construction, to be completed Spring, 2015)[27][35][34]
28.445.731 I‑85 – Greensboro, SpartanburgOuter/northbound exit and inner/southbound entrance; future turbine interchange
30.649.232 US 29 (N. Tryon Street) – Charlotte, ConcordPartial cloverleaf interchange, to Charlotte Motor Speedway
32.251.833 NC 49 (University City Boulevard) – HarrisburgTo UNC Charlotte
 34.755.836Rocky River Road
 37.560.439Harrisburg Road
Mint Hill38.461.841 NC 24 / NC 27 (Albemarle Road) – Albemarle
40.465.043 NC 51 (Blair Road) – Mint Hill
42.267.944 NC 218 (Fairview Road) – Mint Hill
44.171.047Lawyers Road
Matthews46.374.549Idlewild Road
47.175.851 US 74 – Charlotte, MonroeSigned as exits 51A (west) and 51B (east) southbound
50.481.152East John Street – Matthews, Stallings, Indian Trail
Weddington RoadFuture interchange (unfunded)[36]
Charlotte54.187.157 NC 16 (Providence Road) – WeddingtonPartial cloverleaf interchange
56.290.459Rea RoadPartial cloverleaf interchange
59.495.661 US 521 south (Johnston Road)Signed as exits 61A (north) and 61B (south) northbound; to Ballantyne
Pineville61.498.864 NC 51 (Pineville-Matthews Road) – Pineville, MatthewsSigned as exits 64A (north) and 64B (south); partial cloverleaf interchange, to Carolina Place Mall
64.2103.365South Boulevard / North Polk Street – PinevilleSigned as exits 65A (south) and 65B (north) southbound; partial cloverleaf interchange
Charlotte67.6108.867 I‑77 / US 21 – Charlotte, ColumbiaStack interchange
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Google Maps". Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Interstate Guide - I-485 Outer / Wilkinson Blvd sign picture
  3. ^ Dr. Traffic (May 14, 2006). "Making heads or tails of inner, outer loops". The Charlotte Observer. [page needed]
  4. ^ "State has new way to identify location on I-485". Charlotte, NC: WSOC-TV. March 7, 2005. Retrieved December 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c d "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ O'Brien, Gary (August 28, 1996). "Clearing the Way". 'The Charlotte Observer. p. 2M. 
  7. ^ Lyttle, Steve (June 1, 2013). "2 Meck bridges among NC's 'substandard". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  8. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (May 6, 1999). "Stretch of Road Part of a Larger Step". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  9. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (November 20, 2003). "I-485 Arc Takes Shape to Bypass Charlotte". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  10. ^ Curry, Kathleen (July 9, 1988). "Outerbelt Dubbed I-485: Construction on Road Project Officially Under Way". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  11. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (November 11, 1990). "I-485's Opening Unclogs Traffic at Intersection, Not in Heart of Pineville". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4 (Mecklenburg Neighbors). 
  12. ^ a b Whitacre, Dianne (May 13, 2003). "Rules Delay Widening Busiest I-485 Stretch". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  13. ^ Norwood, Allen (October 25, 1994). "Open for Business: Ribbon Cut on Newest I-485 Section". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  14. ^ Norwood, Allen (December 2, 1994). "Bracing As the Outerbelt Advances". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  15. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (July 2, 1997). "Charlotte's Outerbelt Adds Link to NC 49". The Charlotte Observer. p. 2C. 
  16. ^ Horan, Jack & LaPolla, Joie (August 15, 1997). "A Welcome Link: New Section of Outerbelt a Big Deal for Union County". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  17. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (August 28, 1998). "1.4-Mile Stretch of I-485 Opens from NC 49 to Steele Creek". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  18. ^ Gomlak, Norman; LaPolla, Joie (September 14, 1997). "New I-485 Link: Life in the Faster Lane". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4U. 
  19. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (August 13, 1999). "I-485 Leg Opens Today, But Will Traffic Come?". The Charlotte Observer. p. 5C. 
  20. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (December 16, 1999). "Filling in the Belt's Gaps". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C. 
  21. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (June 7, 2000). "I-485 Reaches Mint Hill". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  22. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (September 3, 2003). "Opening Today Adds 7.5 Miles to Eastern I-485". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  23. ^ Whitacre, Dianne (October 20, 2004). "Outerbelt Section Opens to Cheers, Parade of Cars". The Charlotte Observer. p. 2B. 
  24. ^ Rubin, Richard (December 16, 2006). "Outerbelt Giveth, and Taketh Away". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  25. ^ Song, Jenny (May 10, 2007). "Next Exit: Even More Growth along I-485". The Charlotte Observer. [page needed]
  26. ^ Harrison, Steve (December 3, 2008). "Newest I-485 Section to Open". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  27. ^ a b c d "I-485 Charlotte Outer Loop". North Carolina Department of Tranporation. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Charlotte company awarded contract for I-485 completion". Charlotte, NC: WCNC-TV. June 3, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  29. ^ Penland, Brittany (December 2, 2012). "Ballantyne widening of I-485 starts in new year". The Charlotte Observer. p. 4B. 
  30. ^ "Project R-4902". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  31. ^ "NC considers adding toll lane to I-485". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  32. ^ Google, Inc. "Interstate 485 (Western Half)". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc.,-80.768051&spn=0.469252,0.891953&sll=35.362211,-80.830793&sspn=0.029293,0.055747&geocode=FWfyFwIdslot-w%3BFd-hGwIds68u-w&mra=dme&mrsp=1&sz=15&t=p&z=11. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  33. ^ "Project R-2248". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  34. ^ a b "Completion of I-485 Outer Loop In Mecklenburg County Scheduled For Spring 2015". North Carolina Department of Transportation. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  35. ^ Marusak, Joe (February 4, 2012). "New interchange planned for bottlenecked I-77 exit". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Project R-0211". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing