Interstate 385 is a 42-mile freeway spurring northwest from Interstate 26 to the city of Greenville in the Upstate of South Carolina. The freeway serves as a commuter route for the south Greenville County suburbs including Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn, while joining the Greenville metropolitan area with Columbia via I-26. The route carries six or more lanes through the suburbs and city of Greenville, while southern reaches through Laurens County remain a rural four lane freeway.
An unsigned Business Spur for Interstate 385 extends 0.49 miles west from U.S. 276 (Laurens Road) along East North Street to link the freeway with Downtown Greenville and U.S. 29 (Church Street).
Construction originally planned from 2014 to 2017 and now underway between January 2016 and summer 2019, involves upgrading the interchange with Interstate 85 to replace two existing loop ramps with high speed flyovers. Collector distributor roadways will also be added along I-385 from I-85 south to Woodruff Road as well. Known also as the Gateway project, construction will cost $231 million.5
Interstate 385 originally consisted of just the spur from a trumpet interchange with Interstate 85 northwest into Greenville. The freeway leading south from Mauldin to I-26 by Clinton was built in conjunction with Interstate 26 between Columbia and Spartanburg. It opened in fall 1960 as a new alignment for U.S. 276.1
Construction to link the original I-385 at Greenville and U.S. 276 south from Mauldin was separated in two stages and named the Golden Strip Freeway. The first phase got underway in 1978 and involved grading and drainage for the route south from Interstates 85 and 385 to Gilder Creek south of Bridges Road (Exit 33).2
Initially South Carolina planned on realigning U.S. 276 onto the Golden Strip Freeway. An application for the relocation was approved by AASHTO on October 1, 1983 along with redesignating the former route through Greenville and Mauldin as a Business Loop. The AASHTO Route Numbering Committee meeting on May 23, 1984 however revised the freeway route into an extension of Interstate 385, with U.S. 276 truncated southeast from Mauldin. The Golden Strip Freeway was completed in 1985.23
Construction of the Southern Connector extended Interstate 185 southeast to end at Interstate 385 and U.S. 276 in Mauldin. The toll road opened on February 27, 2001.
Interstate 385 underwent reconstruction and expansion to six lanes in the Greenville area between June 2001 and fall 2004. Work expanded the northernmost arc of the freeway from Interstate 85 to the diamond interchange with U.S. 276 (Exit 42). Widening replaced the median with a concrete barrier and raised area for landscaping. Additionally the project included the conversion of the South Carolina 291 interchange from a full cloverleaf to a partial cloverleaf to eliminate weaving traffic patterns. The South Carolina 291 overpass was one of many that were replaced to increase the height clearance.4
Resurfacing of the southernmost 15 miles was undertaken between January and July 2010. One direction of the freeway was closed for a period of time so that crews could rebuild the roadway with new concrete.