Interstate 185 in Georgia is a 49-mile long freeway that links Columbus and Fort Benning with I-85 at LaGrange. The route doubles as unsigned Georgia State Route 411, with the southernmost ten miles comprising an urban route with six lane sections, and the remainder north across Harris and Troup Counties as a four-lane rural freeway.
Lindsey Creek Parkway extends south from I-185 as a freeway into Fort Benning, with three additional interchanges. The route is restricted to military traffic south of U.S. 27-280/SR 520 (Victory Drive).
The Georgia State Transportation Board designated 39 miles of I-185, from Exit 12 northward to Interstate 85, as a “Scenic Byway” on October 18, 2007.1 Within Harris County in November 1997, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) named Interstate 185 as the “Chet Atkins Parkway”, in honor of the legendary country guitarist who lived in the area during his teenage years.
The north end of Interstate 185 includes provisions for an extension. Plans in 1995 involved constructing a five-mile bypass route for U.S. 27, between I-85 and eastern reaches of West Point Lake. $70 million in highway improvements scheduled for the LaGrange area in 1999 included building the bypass and redesigning the exchange between I-85 and I-185 at a cost of $17.7-million.2 Those plans never moved forward however and by 2007, GDOT indicated that the LaGrange Bypass no longer had a projected date.3
Efforts from Albany business and government leaders in 2006 involved lobbying GDOT for an extension of Interstate 185 south from Fort Benning to Monticello, Florida by way of Albany. Benefits cited included the generation of jobs and economic growth for southwest Georgia in addition to traffic relief on Interstate 75. The suggested corridor utilized SR 520 (Corridor Z) south from Columbus to Albany, and U.S. 19 from there to Camilla, Pelham, Thomasville and Interstate 10, south of Monticello.4,5
Designated by AASHTO on June 23, 1969, Interstate 185 was constructed between September 1964 and February 1981.6,7 The route was formally extended southward from SR 22 to U.S. 27 by AASHTO on December 7, 1984 over what was previously signed as just State Route 411.
$60-million in construction upgraded a 2.3-mile stretch of Interstate 185 north from U.S. 27-280/SR 520 (Victory Drive) to St. Marys Road (Exit 3). The six lane expansion project ran from 2007 to July 2011.8 Freeway widening was underway in conjunction with a $17.6-million contract to replace the loop ramp from Victory Drive east to I-185 north with a two-lane directional ramp.9