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
  I-77 / US 21 near Pineville
I-85 near Charlotte
I-77 in Huntersville
I-85 near Concord
US 74 in Matthews
Location
Counties:Mecklenburg
Highway system
NC 481US 501
 
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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
  I-77 / US 21 near Pineville
I-85 near Charlotte
I-77 in Huntersville
I-85 near Concord
US 74 in Matthews
Location
Counties:Mecklenburg
Highway system
NC 481US 501

Interstate 485 (I-485) is an incomplete 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]

Alternate names[edit]

Though the highway is commonly known as either "I-485" or "Charlotte Outerbelt" throughout the state, the highway does have other names posted to honor various important citizens. Even though the names are present, not many local residents use them.

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 24-27 (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.

History[edit]

NC 24 End at Interstate 485 in Charlotte

The first section of what would become Interstate 485 opened in the early 1970s,[citation needed] connecting a newly opened section of I-85 with U.S. 29 near the Cabarrus-Mecklenburg county line.[6] 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.[7]

In 1975, planning began for the Charlotte outerbelt.[8]

On July 8, 1988, Gov. Jim Martin and state transportation secretary Seddon Goode attended a groundbreaking near U.S. 521, marking the start of construction on the first 1.3-mile section between U.S. 521 and N.C. 51. Martin also announced the designation "Interstate 485" for what had previously been called the outerbelt.[9] The section opened November 1, 1990, two months earlier than planned.[10]

A 2.6 mile, $67.2 million section of I-485 from U.S. 521 to I-77 opened October 24, 1994. The section included a four-level interchange at I-77.[11] On December 9, 1994, the section from N.C. 51 to Rea Road opened.[12]

On July 1, 1997, a $13.9 million 2-mile section of I-485 opened between I-77 and N.C. 49, a section designated The Seddon "Rusty" Goode Jr. Freeway, named for a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation who helped decide where I-485 would be built.[13]

On August 15, 1997, 2.3 miles of I-485 opened between Rea Road and N.C. 16 (Providence Road).[14] An $8.6 million 1.4-mile section from N.C. 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.[15] Seven more miles opened September 15, connecting N.C. 16 to U.S. 74.[16]

After the upgrade to the section between I-85 and U.S. 29 was finished in May 1999, the section from U.S. 29 to N.C. 49 opened August 13, 1999.[17] 2.3 miles from U.S. 74 to Idlewild Road opened in December 1999.[7][18]

A $10.2 million, three-mile section opened between Idlewild Road and Lawyers Road in Mint Hill In June 2000.[19]

A 7.5-mile, $55.4 million section opened September 3, 2003. It was hoped that 12.5 miles could open, connecting N.C. 49 to Lawyers Road, but only the section north of N.C. 27 (Albemarle Road) opened at that time.[20] I-485 reached an important milestone November 19, 2003, when the last five miles 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.[8]

On October 19, 2004, I-485 reached another milestone, with a $100 million, seven-mile 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.[21]

2.3 miles from I-85 to N.C. 27 (Mount Holly Road) opened December 15, 2006.[22] A mile and a half opened from N.C. 27 to N.C. 16 (Brookshire Boulevard) on May 9, 2007.[23] I-485 reached I-77 as 5.5 miles opened December 4, 2008 more than a year late between N.C. 16 and N.C. 115.[24]

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.[25][26]

Future[edit]

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.[25]

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.[27] On November 18, 2011, it was reported in the local news that NCDOT is considering adding an additional 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.[28]

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 Interstate 77 at mile 67.

The entire route is in Mecklenburg County.

LocationMile[29]kmExitDestinationsNotes
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 RoadPlanned interchange (partially constructed, no timetable for completion)[30]
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
CharlotteProsperity Church RoadFuture double roundabout interchange (under construction, to be completed 2014)[25]
Mallard Creek RoadFuture diverging diamond interchange (under construction, to be completed 2014)[25][31]
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
Weddington RoadPlanned interchange (funded, no timetable for completion)[32]
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) northbound; partial cloverleaf interchange, to Carolina Place Mall
64.2103.365South Boulevard – PinevilleSigned as exits 65A (south) and 65B (north) southbound; partial cloverleaf interchange
Charlotte67.6108.867 I-77 / US 21 – Charlotte, ColumbiaStack interchange

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing

  1. ^ "Google Maps". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b Interstate Guide - I-485 Outer / Wilkinson Blvd sign picture
  3. ^ Dr. Traffic (2006-05-14). "Making heads or tails of inner, outer loops". The Charlotte Observer. 
  4. ^ WSOC-TV News: State has new way to identify location on I-485 (Accessed Dec 2006)
  5. ^ a b c d "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities". Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  6. ^ Gary O'Brien, "Clearing the Way," The Charlotte Observer, August 28, 1996, p. 2M.
  7. ^ a b Dianne Whitacre, "Stretch of Road Part of a Larger Step," The Charlotte Observer, May 6, 1999, p. 1C.
  8. ^ a b Dianne Whitacre, "I-485 Arc Takes Shape to Bypass Charlotte", The Charlotte Observer, November 20, 2003, p. 1A.
  9. ^ Kathleen Curry, "Outerbelt Dubbed I-485: Construction on Road Project Officially Under Way," The Charlotte Observer, July 9, 1988, p. 1B.
  10. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "I-485's Opening Unclogs Traffic at Intersection, Not in Heart of Pineville," The Charlotte Observer, November 11, 1990, p. 4 (Mecklenburg Neighbors).
  11. ^ Allen Norwood, "Open for Business: Ribbon Cut on Newest I-485 Section," The Charlotte Observer, October 25, 1994, p. 1A.
  12. ^ Allen Norwood, "Bracing As the Outerbelt Advances," The Charlotte Observer, December 2, 1994, p. 1B.
  13. ^ Dianne Whitacre, 'Charlotte's Outerbelt Adds Link to N.C. 49," The Charlotte Observer, July 2, 1997, p. 2C.
  14. ^ Jack Horan and Joie LaPolla, "A Welcome Link: New Section of Outerbelt a Big Deal for Union County," The Charlotte Observer, August 15, 1997, p. 1C.
  15. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "1.4-Mile Stretch of I-485 Opens from N.C. 49 to Steele Creek, The Charlotte Observer, August 28, 1998, p. 1C.
  16. ^ Norman Gomlak and Joie LaPolla, "New I-485 Link: Life in the Faster Lane," The Charlotte Observer, September 14, 1997, p. 4U.
  17. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "I-485 Leg Opens Today, But Will Traffic Come?", The Charlotte Observer, August 13, 1999, p. 5C.
  18. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "Filling in the Belt's Gaps," The Charlotte Observer, December 16, 1999, p. 1C.
  19. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "I-485 Reaches Mint Hill," The Charlotte Observer, June 7, 2000, p. 1A.
  20. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "Opening Today Adds 7.5 Miles to Eastern I-485," The Charlotte Observer, September 3, 2003, p. 1B.
  21. ^ Dianne Whitacre, "Outerbelt Section Opens to Cheers, Parade of Cars, The Charlotte Observer, October 20, 2004, p. 2B.
  22. ^ Richard Rubin, "Outerbelt Giveth, and Taketh Away," The Charlotte Observer, December 16, 2006, p. 1B.
  23. ^ Jenny Song, "Next Exit: Even More Growth along I-485," The Charlotte Observer, May 10, 2007.
  24. ^ Steve Harrison, "Newest I-485 Section to Open," The Charlotte Observer, December 3, 2008, p. 1B.
  25. ^ a b c d "NCDOT: I-485 Charlotte Outer Loop". Ncdot.gov. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  26. ^ "Charlotte company awarded contract for I-485 completion | WCNC.com Charlotte". Wcnc.com. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  27. ^ "NCDOT: Project R-4902". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  28. ^ "N.C. considers adding toll lane to I-485". Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  29. ^ Google Inc. Google Maps – Interstate 485 (Western Half) (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Interstate+485+Inner&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&ll=35.265244,-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 2012-07-20.
  30. ^ "NCDOT: Project R-2248". Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  31. ^ Marusak, Joe (February 4, 2012). "New interchange planned for bottlenecked I-77 exit". Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Observer. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  32. ^ "NCDOT: Project R-0211". Retrieved October 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]