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.
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
- North Parent Jct – Doraville, GA
- South Parent Jct – College Park, GA
Mileage – 63.98*
Cities – Atlanta
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 1.21 miles on I-85
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.
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
North End – southeast of Doraville, Georgia
South End – College Park, Georgia
- “New report puts dates on start of Outer Loop.” The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, October 22, 1992.
- “Outer Loop on back burner again.” The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, November 5, 1992.
- “Northern arc through Cherokee endorsed by Barnes.” Cherokee Tribune (Canton, GA), January 16, 1999.
- “Counties eye Arc right-of-way – Gwinnett floats parkway plan.” The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, February 20, 2003.
- “Happy Birthday to the open road.” Gwinnett Daily Post (Lawrenceville, GA), June 25, 2006.
- “I-75, I-285 on north side to be widened … again.” The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, May 28, 1986.
- “Light at end of the tunnel for Interstate 85 construction.”” The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, September 17, 1987.
Page updated July 3, 2017.