Interstate 285 Georgia


Interstate 285 forms a beltway around the city of Atlanta through Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties in north Georgia. The mostly urban route runs north-south through western reaches of the city while entering East Point, College Park, Forest Park, Doraville and Sandy Springs. Originally intended to allow through traffic to bypass the city, the freeway is heavily used by local traffic as a result of suburban growth.

Atlanta has been fast growing for decades now, and area development has reached far beyond the scope of the Atlanta Beltway. Many corporations established their presence near beltway interchanges, as opposed to center city. This can be seen in the many high-rise buildings along the northern portion of I-285 through Sandy Springs.

Eastbound Interstate 285 passes through a pair of tunnels, totaling 1,500 feet in length, on the south side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Photo taken April 13, 2012.

Relief for I-285, the Outer Perimeter

Due to increasing congestion along I-285, a 211-mile Outer Loop, 20 to 25 miles beyond the Perimeter Highway,2 was proposed from the 1980s onward to alleviate area traffic and provide a new bypass for regional travelers. An Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) planning document released in 1992 scheduled construction of the Outer Perimeter northern section. Included was a $64 million interchange on Interstate 575 in Cherokee County, slated to begin in early 1993. This would tie into a 12-mile or so stretch from I-575 east to the Forsyth County line. Total costs were estimated to be $91.8-million with completion sometime in 1995. Work would follow on the majority of the over $700-million northern section by 2000.1

Funding woes ensued by November 1992, leading to the dropping of the I-575 interchange from the priority list under consideration by the Atlanta Regional Commission. This allowed for environmentalist opposition to continue to mount against the Outer Loop.2

A portion of the Outer Loop, the Northern Arc, was still under consideration by 1999. It was supported by Governor Roy Barnes in a transportation initiative introduced on January 25, 1999. The 59-mile road would connect Interstate 75 near Cartersville to Interstate 85 at Buford, mostly parallel to Georgia 20. Interchanges in Cherokee County included those proposed at GA 20 in Macedonia, I-575 in north Canton, GA 140 south of Waleska and GA 108 north of Sutallee.3

By 2002, costs for the project ballooned to $2.2 billion with plans calling for the Northern Arc to be built as a toll road. Governor Barnes no longer supported the road by the 2002 elections. When Governor Sonny Perdue took office, he formally canceled the Northern Arc. $38 million in right of way had been acquired for the scuttled project by that point, including 750 of 1,200 acres needed for the 12.6-mile segment between Peachtree Industrial Parkway and GA 316 in Gwinnett County.4


Construction on Interstate 285 commenced in August 1958. The loop was completed in July 1970.5 The Perimeter Highway was expanded by a lane in each direction between I-75 at Marietta and I-85 by Doraville as part of the $1.3-billion "Free the Freeways" mega project by 1988.6

Highway Guides

Beltway Milepost Zero - College Park, Georgia - Interstate 85/Georgia Spur 14
Perspective from Interstate 285 south
Two miles north of Exit 61 for Interstate 85 on Interstate 285 southbound. The final two exits (1 and 2) of Interstate 285 serve the College Park community of southwest Atlanta metro. Photo taken 07/13/05.
The final exit on southbound Interstate 285 is Exit 1, Washington Road. Photo taken 07/13/05.
In addition to connecting Atlanta to Montgomery, Interstate 85 also serves the city of Columbus and Fort Benning via connections with Interstate 185. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Ramps to Interstate 85/Exit 61 depart just after the Interstate 285 ramps to the westbound beginning of Georgia Spur 14/South Fulton Parkway. This photograph looks at the one mile sign bridge for the approaching parent junction. Photo taken 07/13/05.
This is the last southbound Interstate 285 reassurance shield. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Traffic to Georgia 279/Old National Highway is segregated from the traffic movements between Interstate 85 and 285, even through the state route bisects the parallel routing of the two freeways. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Interstate 285 utilizes Interstate 75 control cities and places second fiddle to the 2-digit route on its own reassurance panel as the Exit 61 ramps for Interstate 85 depart from southbound. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Sign bridge at the partition of the Exit 61 ramps to Interstate 85 north and south. Hartsfield International Airport is located just four miles to the northeast along Interstate 85. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Perspective from Interstate 285 west
Five lanes of Interstate 285 progress westward toward Exits 60/Georgia 139 and 61/Interstate 85. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Now within 1.50 miles of Interstate 85 on Interstate 285 westbound. Georgia 139/Riverdale Road serves the Atlanta Airport and College Park vicinity. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
0.75 miles east of Interstate 85 on Interstate 285 westbound. Exits 61 and 62 are the highest numbers Interstate 285 will obtain before the mileposts reset to zero. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Four through lanes are provided for Interstate 285 westbound through traffic at Exit 61. Interstate 85 is allocated three lanes. Downtown Atlanta is 14 miles to the northeast at this point. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Split of Interstate 285 west from the Exit 61 lanes to Interstate 85. Interstate 85 mileage to Columbus (via Interstate 185): 93 miles, to Montgomery: 146 miles. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Reassurance panels showing the parallel alignment of Interstate 85 south with Interstate 285 west. Control points of Interstate 285 include Birmingham for the Interstate 20 westbound connection at Exit 10 and Chattanooga for the connection with Interstate 75 north at Exit 20. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Perspective from Interstate 85 south
Centerline upcoming exits sign on Interstate 85 southbound, 2.25 miles north of the confluence with Interstate 285. Exit 72 for Camp Creek Parkway and Atlanta Airport departs within 0.25 miles. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Interstate 285 sees the control cities of Macon and Birmingham on Interstate 85 south for the connections with Interstate 75 south and Interstate 20 west respectively. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Exit 71 for Georgia 139/Riverdale Road departs in one mile as Interstate 85 draws within 1.50 miles of Interstate 285/Exit 70. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
During the two mile parallel alignment of Interstate 85 and 285, is Exit 69 with Georgia 279/Old National Highway. Georgia Spur 14, the South Fulton Parkway, extends westward from the southwest corner of the Atlanta Beltway, two miles to the west. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Interstate 285 traffic branches from Interstate 85 southbound as both highways are now orientated in an east-west fashion. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Continuing on Exit 70 to Interstate 285 is this sign bridge. A return ramp to Interstate 85 southbound and ramp to Georgia 279 is offered to traffic utilizing the Interstate 285 northbound roadway. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
The sign bridge Pictured in the above photograph used to display this original button copy signage. Photo taken 04/95.
Perspective from Interstate 85 north
Interstate 85 northbound expands to four lanes as it travels through the growing southwest suburbs of Atlanta. This diagram sign for Exit 68 is situated two miles to the south of Interstate 285. The second photo shows the original button copy panel displayed for Exit 68 (then Exit 15). Signage was replaced in August 2000, and this coincided with the Georgia exit renumbering project of 2000. Note that the lighting fixtures also are no longer in place in the newer photo. Photos taken 06/21/05 and 12/07/99.
Now one mile south of Exit 68 for the Atlanta Beltway. Although maps show Interstates 85 and 285 as overlapped for two miles, the two highways actually maintain independent roadways from one another. The zero milepost occurs at the western confluence of the two freeways. Photo taken 06/12/05.
The right two lanes become exit-only for Interstate 285. The control cities are replaced with Atlanta Bypass as this guide sign coincides with truck restriction signage for traffic within the beltway. Photo taken 06/12/05.
Exit 68 branches away from Interstate 85 northbound for Interstate 285. Ahead is Exit 69 for Georgia Spur 14. This state route extends westward from this interchange as a freeway two miles to U.S. 29, the Roosevelt Highway. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03) and on 06/12/05.
Interstate 285 overheads on the Exit 68 roadway from Interstate 85 northbound. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Control cities finally emerge for Interstate 285 at the ramp split of Exit 68. Note that Macon and Tampa both pertain to Interstate 75 south for Interstate 285 east. Augusta is normally displayed for the connection with Interstate 20 eastbound (Exit 46 of the beltway). The original button copy signs (1999 photo) use Augusta instead of Tampa as a control city for Interstate 285 east. From here, Interstate 285 east meets Interstate 75 in four miles. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03) and on 12/07/99.
Back on mainline Interstate 85 north, the next exit is Exit 69A, Junction Georgia Spur 14/South Fulton Parkway. At this exit, the Interstate 285 overheads can be seen from the main lanes. Photo taken 06/12/05.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 85 is Exit 69B, Junction Georgia 279/Old National Highway. This overpass carries Interstate 285 into position alongside Interstate 85. The outer loop of Interstate 285 and northbound Interstate 85 will parallel each other for a short distance. Photo taken 06/12/05.
Continuing north on mainline Interstate 85 north (after Exit 69A, Junction Georgia Spur 14/South Fulton Parkway and Exit 69B, Junction Georgia 279/Old National Highway), this view shows the close proximity of Interstate 285's outer loop as Interstate 285 straddles Interstate 85 for a distance. Photo taken 06/12/05.
Three separate sets of lanes carry traffic through this busy interchange. Interstate 85 north will soon peel off to the northeast, while Interstate 285's outer loop lanes will continue due east toward Interstate 75. Photo taken 06/12/05.
Shortly thereafter, Interstate 85 turns to the northeast at Exit 71, Junction Georgia 139/Riverdale Road (to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport). Interstate 285 continues east from here, passing by the south edge of the airport, while Interstate 85 will pass along the western edge of the airport and the eastern edge of College Park. Photo taken 06/12/05.
Perspective from Georgia Spur 14 east
The southwest junction of the beltway with Interstate 85 and Georgia Spur 14 marks Milepost 0 for Interstate 285. The zero milepost marks the terminus of the beltway. This view takes a look at the confluence of bridges associated with the complex interchange. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (7/98).
North Parent Interstate Junction - southeast of Doraville, Georgia - Interstate 85
Perspective from Interstate 285 north
Interstate 285 northbound, two miles outside of Exit 33/Interstate 85. Interstate 285 varies between six and eight lanes on its 62 mile venture around the capital city of Georgia. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Approaching the ramp split for Exit 33 on Interstate 285 north. Interesting to note that the exit numbers count downward as Interstate 285 progresses north. With that stated, Exit 34 for Chamblee-Tucker Road should depart before Exit 33 of Interstate 285. In actuality, the ramp for Interstate 285 does leave before the ramp to Chamblee-Tucker Road. However, the actual location of the diamond interchange of Exit 34 is to the south of the stack interchange at Exit 33. The photos below will illustrate the fact that the Interstate 285 ramps parallel Interstate 85 a good distance before actually entering the interchange area itself. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
The Exit 33 roadway begins just south of the diamond interchange (Exit 34) with Chamblee-Tucker Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Descending northward on the Interstate 85 ramps. The Exit 34 interchange with Chamblee-Tucker Road on Interstate 285 is situated to the left. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Ascending to the Tom Moreland interchange with Interstate 85. The ramp to Interstate 85 northbound is rather tight and also features a ramp to Northcrest and Pleasantdale Roads (Exit 96 of Interstate 85 northbound). Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Perspective from Interstate 285 south
Original button copy signage for Interstate 85 on Interstate 285 southbound. This signage has long since been replaced in conjunction with the Georgia Interstate exit renumbering project of 2000. Photo taken 04/95.
One quarter mile to the southeast of the above Pictured sign bridge on Interstate 285 is this set of signs indicating that Interstate 85 is just 2.25 miles away. The signage above, 0.25 miles away, displays that Interstate 85 is still three miles out. The original interchange between Interstate 85 and 285 in northeast Atlanta was a standard cloverleaf. The new interchange features flyover ramps that depart Interstate 285 further north from where the original cloverleaf ramps were located. This helps to explain the distance discrepancy between the two mileage figures. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
One half mile north of Exit 32 for U.S. 23/Buford Highway. Interstate 85's ramps are just beyond that interchange. Note that traffic to Chamblee-Tucker Road (Exit 34 for Interstate 285 northbound) must use the Interstate 85 south (Exit 33A) ramp. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Three exit-only lanes are allocated from Interstate 285 southbound for Exits 33A/B to Interstate 85. The Doraville exit of U.S. 23 departs Interstate 285 in this scene. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Southbound Interstate 285 descends toward the sprawling Spaghetti Junction interchange with Interstate 85. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Interstate 285 maintains three southbound through lanes through the Interstate 85 stack interchange. This photo shows the Exit 33B overhead for traffic headed to Interstate 85 northbound for Gainesville and Greenville, South Carolina. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Continuing southbound on the Exit 33A roadway to Interstate 85 southbound. Note that due to merging traffic from Exit 32/U.S. 23, access to Interstate 85 northbound is provided as well as return access to Interstate 285 southbound. Chamblee-Tucker Road traffic must utilize the Interstate 85 northbound ramp. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Perspective from Interstate 85 south
1.50 miles north of Exits 95B-A on Interstate 85 southbound. A truck restriction is in effect for Interstate 85 within the Atlanta Beltway as the signage suggests. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Signage for Exit 95 is split between two panels in this sign bridge on Interstate 85 southbound, 0.75 miles north of Exit 95B. The Atlanta Bypass is afforded two control cities per direction when approaching Interstate 285 from outside the beltway. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Interstate 85 southbound expands to seven lanes in anticipation of the Tom Moreland stack interchange with Interstate 285. As is the case with northbound, the left-hand lane is allocated for HOV-2 traffic. This restriction is generally in place 24 hours a day. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Traffic for Exit 95B, the West Bypass portion of Interstate 285 splits from Interstate 85 south. The control city includes Birmingham for the junction with Interstate 20 west, 23 miles to the southwest. Photo taken 07/13/05.
Unlike the northbound ramp configuration to Interstate 285, southbound sees independent ramps to the Atlanta beltway. This overhead advises motorists that the right-hand lane is now exit-only for Interstate 285 south. Photo taken 07/13/05.
The volumes of traffic that travel through this busy interchange warrant two lanes for Interstate 285 from Interstate 85 south. Unfortunately, the growth of the Atlanta metropolitan area has inundated these ramps, adding pressure to expand the capacity even further. Macon is displayed on the East Bypass guide sign for the Interstate 75 southbound junction, 15 miles to the south. Photos taken 07/13/05 and by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Views of the stack interchange between Interstate 85 and Interstate 285 as seen from southbound Interstate 85. Photos taken 07/13/05.
Perspective from Interstate 85 north
The first sign of the north parent junction of Interstate 285 is posted at the Shallowford Road overpass (Exit 93). Interstate 85 northbound consists of five lanes with the left lane designated for HOV-2 traffic. Photo taken 06/21/05.
Now within one mile of Exit 95 and Interstate 285 on Interstate 85 northbound. The control cities include Chattanooga for the connection with Interstate 75 north and Augusta for the connection of Interstate 20 east. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
The flyover ramps of Spaghetti Junction coming into view Interstate 85 prepares to yield its right lane to Interstate 285 bound traffic. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
The Interstate 85 mainline splits with the ramps for Interstate 285. This often congested junction sits 128 miles of the northern control city of Greenville, South Carolina. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
The Exit 95 ramps to Interstate 285 expand to three lanes, allowing for two lanes to either direction of Interstate 285. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Ramp partition to Interstate 285 from Interstate 85 north. The first northbound interchange is that of Exit 32 to U.S. 23/Buford Highway. The first southbound interchange is that of Exit 34 for Chamblee-Tucker Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/23/03).
Back on northbound Interstate 85, this view shows the stack Spaghetti Junction interchange with its intricate maze of ramps stacked on top of each other. Exit 96 (Northcrest Road and Pleasantdale Road) departs from Interstate 85 north underneath the tall stack interchange. Photo taken 06/21/05.


  1. "New report puts dates on start of Outer Loop." The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, October 22, 1992.
  2. "Outer Loop on back burner again." The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, November 5, 1992.
  3. "Northern arc through Cherokee endorsed by Barnes." Cherokee Tribune (Canton, GA), January 16, 1999.
  4. "Counties eye Arc right-of-way - Gwinnett floats parkway plan." The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, February 20, 2003.
  5. "Happy Birthday to the open road." Gwinnett Daily Post (Lawrenceville, GA), June 25, 2006.
  6. "I-75, I-285 on north side to be widened ... again." The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, May 28, 1986.

Page Updated June 26, 2017.

More Info


State Georgia
Mileage 63.98*
Cities Atlanta
Junctions I-85, I-75, I-675, I-20, I-85, I-75, I-20
Source: December 31, 2016 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
1.21 miles on I-85
Remaining portions of Interstate 285 to open in 1969 included between Exits 40 (Ponce de Leon Avenue) and 32 (Chamblee Tucker Road) in DeKalb County and Exits 12 (U.S. 78 & 278) and Exit 19 (U.S. 19) between west Atlanta and Cobb County.
A number of other freeways may have alleviated traffic in the Atlanta area had they been constructed. Of ones shown here, Georgia 400 between I-285 and I-485, I-485 east of Boulevard, and Georgia 410 between I-485 and U.S. 29 & 78 (Lawrenceville Highway) were never built.