Interstate 285 North Carolina
Approved in February 2018, Interstate 285 runs concurrent with the 23-mile freeway portion of U.S. 52 through Davidson and Forsyth counties, connecting Lexington to Winston-Salem. The I-285 designation should boost the local economy by placing additional communities onto the Interstate system.1
Beginning at the split of U.S. 29-52-70 and Business Loop I-85 from Interstate 85 (Exit 87) near Davidson County Airport (EXX), I-285 initially travels northeast toward Lexington. Business Loop I-85, U.S. 29 & 70 depart for Downtown while I-285 and U.S. 52 continue around Lexington, bypassing it to the west. The freeway proceeds north around both Welcome and Midway before entering Forsyth County. I-285 ends at the exchange with I-40 while the U.S. 52 freeway continues into Winston-Salem.
Already built to Interstate standards, the section of U.S. 52 between Lexington and Winston-Salem was initially submitted to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as Interstate 185. That designation however, was rejected on May 30, 2003 during their annual Special Committee on Route Numbering meeting. Interstate 285 first appeared in North Carolina’s Strategic Highway Corridors map as of November 12, 2004.
After several tries by the state of North Carolina, AASHTO approved the signing of Interstate 285 along the U.S. 52 freeway between Lexington and Winston-Salem during the week of September 5, 2005.1 This decision, coupled with approval by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) granted in 2004, paved the way for NCDOT officials to post Future Interstate 285 signs along the corridor. The only hurdle preventing the highway from officially joining the Interstate system at the time were $2.5 million in shoulder improvements needed along the freeway . Completion of that project was slated for 2011, at which time Interstate 285 was to be signed.1
North End – Winston-Salem, NC
South End – Lexington, NC
Mileage – 23.49
Cities – Lexington, Winston-Salem
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-285 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: 2017 NCDOT AADT Mapping Application
The North Carolina Strategic Corridors map outlined Interstate 285 as ending at I-40. An extension of the highway will lengthen the route to the planned Winston-Salem Northern Beltway south of Rural Hall, where I-74 and I-274 will eventually meet. Beyond that interchange, the U.S. 52 freeway doubles as the I-74 corridor northwest toward Mount Airy. $500 million in improvements to the U.S. 52 freeway between Downtown Winston-Salem and Rural Hall were scheduled for completion by 2012.1
Finally on February 15, 2018, Interstate 285 received its formal approval from the FHWA to overlay the 23-mile segment of U.S. 52 between I-85 in Lexington and I-40 in Winston-Salem.2 The submission was made by NCDOT in September 2017 upon completion of two projects that finalized additional upgrades of U.S. 52 to Interstate standards. Signs for I-285 were placed along the corridor in Fall 2018.2
North End – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
South End – Lexington, North Carolina
Sign changes made along Interstate 85 north during freeway expansion removed most references of Business Loop I-85 for Exit 87 to Lexington. I-285 markers were installed along the U.S. 52 freeway mainline in 2018. Overheads remained unchanged through Spring 2019. Photos taken 01/17/19.
U.S. 29-52-70 split with Interstate 85 north at a wye interchange (Exit 87). The three routes accompany I-285 and Business Loop I-85 through southwest Lexington. Photos taken 12/15/16.
- “U.S. 52 gets a second name.” The Winston-Salem Journal, September 10, 2005.
- I-285 Gets Federal Approval as the Next New Interstate for North Carolina, NCDOT News Releases, February 15, 2018.
Page updated May 22, 2019.