Interstate 785 North Carolina
The southernmost segment of Interstate 785 follows 7.65 miles of the Greensboro Northern Loop (I-840). I-785 was signed along the Greensboro beltway north from I-40 and I-85 to U.S. 70 in December 2016. The loop opened 5.5 miles north from there to U.S. 29 on December 6, 2017.1
The final section of the Greensboro Northern Loop opened on January 23, 2023 west from I-785 and U.S. 29 to North Elm Street. With the completion of Interstate 840, the route will be fully signed alongside I-785. The concurrency will represent only the second occurrence of two branch routes combining along a single stretch of freeway within the Interstate Highway System. The first instance is where I-271/480 overlap east of Cleveland.
Future plans extend Interstate 785 northeast from Greensboro along U.S. 29 to Reidsville and Danville, Virginia. North of Greensboro, I-785 exists solely on paper with the exception of a few future Interstate 785 corridor signs. This is due to upgrades required to bring the freeway along U.S. 29 to Interstate standards. This includes adding or widening existing shoulders, building acceleration and deceleration ramps, and other improvements.
A $206 million project will upgrade U.S. 29 to Interstate standards along a 16 mile stretch from north of Hicone Road (SR 2565) in Greensboro to U.S. 158/NC 14. Improvements include bridge replacements for future entrance and exit ramps. Work anticipated for 2022 replaces bridges at U.S. 29 Business, Barnes Street and U.S. 158/NC 14. A bridge replacement at Reedy Fork Parkway started in Summer 2020. The remainder of construction could start in 2027.2
High Priority Corridor
Interstate 785 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 17 and 40: Route 29 Corridor.
The movement to designate U.S. 29 as Interstate 785 was advocated by a former Danville mayor in 1996,3 coinciding with efforts from the Interstate Connection: Alliance for Economic Growth in Fall 1996. The organization was comprised of business and government leaders who promoted the route for potential economic improvements to the area including diversifying the economy, creating new jobs, generating additional tax revenue and enhancing regional cooperation. North Carolina and Virginia officials came to agreement in April 1997 for a new Interstate Corridor between Greensboro and Danville.4
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) submitted applications for establishing Interstate 785 to the Fall 1997 meeting of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) Route Numbering Committee. They were both approved on November 15, 1997, subject to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concurrence. Senator Launch Faircloth (R-NC) sponsored the I-785 designation included in a $203 billion congressional transportation bill passed in May 1998. This allocated federal money for “discretionary high-priority corridors”.3
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 6.81 miles on I-840
I-785 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|I-40/85 to US 70||27,500|
|US 70 to Huffine Mill Rd||15,500|
|Huffine Mill Rd to US 29||13,000|
Source: 2019 NCDOT AADT Mapping Application
The proposed route extended over the existing freeway along U.S. 29 from I-40/85 in Greensboro, North Carolina to the interchange with U.S. 58 at Danville, Virginia. The 7.0 mile long Virginia portion was built to Interstate standards. The 40.22 mile long North Carolina section required upgrading to meet full Interstate design standards. Signing I-785 was subject to approval of the FHWA in accordance with 23 USC 139(a) and 139(b).
A ceremony designating U.S. 29 as the Future I-785 corridor took place on June 29, 1998 at the Piedmont Triad Visitors Center south of Danville, Virginia. Attended by Representatives Virgil Goode of Virginia and Richard Burr of North Carolina, the event promoted economic development enhanced by the proposed Interstate highway. Future I-785 signs were installed afterward.5
Interstate 785 subsequently appeared on North Carolina’s Strategic Highway Corridors map by November 12, 2004. The southernmost section of I-785 was eventually approved by the FHWA on July 31, 2013 and acknowledged by AASHTO on October 21, 2013. This established I-785 along the Greensboro Northern Loop from I-40 north to U.S. 70 at Greensboro, North Carolina.
NCDOT installed I-785 signs by December 2016 at I-40/85. A spokesman for the agency indicated on February 20, 2017 that the signs were installed “early”, as the section of the Greensboro Urban Loop north from U.S. 70 to U.S. 29 was not scheduled to open until October of that year.6
The Eastern Section of the Greensboro Urban Loop opened to traffic on the evening of December 6, 2017, a year ahead of schedule. Costing over $140 million,1 work included completing the parclo interchange with U.S. 70 (Burlington Road) and building new interchanges with Huffine Mill Road and U.S. 29. NCDOT projected 58,000 vehicles per day (vpd) on this section of I-785 by 2040.7
North End – Greensboro, North Carolina
North West at
South End – Greensboro, North Carolina
South East at
West South at
- “Western section of Urban Loop slated to open next.” News & Record (Greensboro, NC), December 9, 2017.
- “I-785 ‘Blue Shield’ puts Reidsville on the map.” Greensboro News & Record (NC), September 16, 2019.
- “I-785 Still Has Long Way to Travel an Asphalt Salvation: The Signs are There, but the Reality of I-785 Lies Far – in the Future.” Greensboro News & Record (NC), July 20, 1998.
- North Carolina Department of Transportation Strategic Highway Planning Documents.
- “Ceremony Will Mark U.S. 29’s Designation at Interstate 785.” Greensboro News & Record (NC), June 29, 1998.
- “Triangle & N.C. Briefs.” News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC), February 22, 2017.
- “Eastern section of Greensboro beltline open.” Times-News (Burlington, NC), December 7, 2017.
Page updated April 12, 2023.