The southernmost segment of Interstate 785 follows the eastern leg 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 north from there to U.S. 29 on April 19, 2018.
When the Greensboro Northern Loop is completed west from I-785 and U.S. 29 to U.S. 220 (Battleground Road) in 2020, Interstate 840 will be fully signed along side 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 Interstates 271 and 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 guide signs. This is due to upgrades required to bring the U.S. 29 freeway to Interstate standards. This includes adding or widening existing shoulders, building acceleration and deceleration ramps, and other improvements.
Interstate 785 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 17 and 40: Route 29 Corridor.
The freeway was jointly agreed upon by North Carolina and Virginia officials April of 1997 after the advocation from the Interstate Connection: Alliance for Economic Growth in the fall of 1996. The organization was comprised of business and government leaders who touted the route for potential economic improvements to the area including diversifying the economy, creating new jobs, generating additional tax revenue and enhancing regional cooperation.1