Interstate 985 Georgia
Interstate 985 both acts as a commuter freeway joining the Atlanta metropolitan area with Lake Lanier and the city of Gainesville and a part of a long distance route for U.S. 23 to the north Georgia mountains. Although still rural in appearance, suburban growth adds traffic to the route with some sections more urbanized in design. 70 mile per hour speed limits are posted throughout the 24-mile route.
All of Interstate 985 doubles as both Georgia 365 and unsigned Georgia 419. U.S. 23 accompanies the route from Exit 4 northeast to the Interstate end at U.S. 129 on the east side of Gainesville. U.S. 23 extends northeast from there as an expressway toward Clarkesville and Toccoa.
Construction to extend the I-85 Express Lanes northeast from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road involves expansion of the wye interchange with I-985 to include a new Express Lane overpass. Provisions will also be made to the southbound overpass for I-85 to accommodate future expansion of I-985. The $178-million project started on August 3, 2016. Work runs through summer 2018.4
A new diamond interchange will be constructed on Interstate 985 with H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway between Exits 12 and 16. The project will extend H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway south from parallel Thurman Tanner Parkway across I-985 & U.S. 23 to the intersection of Georgia 13 and Martin Road. No timetable has been set as of fall 2015.
North End – Gainesville, GA
South End – Suwanee, GA
Mileage – 24.04
Cities – Gainesville
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
The north end of the Georgia 365 freeway tied into Old Cornelia Highway, which was then both U.S. 23 and Georgia 13. Old Corelia Highway east from Gainesville today is unnumbered to Georgia 52, which remains along the route north toward Lula.
I-985 was approved as an Interstate Highway by AASHTO on December 7, 1984. The freeway was previously constructed between August 1962 and December 1969 as a new alignment for U.S. 23.1 The route was built instead of Interstate 85, which shifted southward in 1959 from a route by Gainesville, Cornelia and Toccoa to the current alignment east from Suwanee to Commerce and Lavonia. Efforts by Governor Ernest Vandiver resulted in the corridor shift of I-85, which ran through Frankl County, his home area.3
According to Steve Williams, until 1985 the freeway was simply known as Georgia 365, despite the merge of U.S. 23 from the first exit (Georgia 20 – former Exit 1). Once the limited access portion ends in Gainesville, the highway is signed as U.S. 23 & Georgia 365 to Cornelia. GA 365 eventually splits north of Cornelia, joining GA 17 and U.S. 123 as it goes through Toccoa en route to the South Carolina line. Locals started referring to the limited access portion as "985" once it was signed accordingly.
Work completed in 1991 extended the four-lane corridor of Georgia 365 east from the I-985 end at Gainesville to Toccoa.3
$74.6-million in construction at Oakwood included the construction of a new interchange (Exit 17) with Georgia 13 (Atlanta Highway) and the addition of collector distributor roadways between it and adjacent Exit 16 with Georgia 53 (Mundy Mill Road). The work was completed between June 8, 2006 and July 31, 2009.2
North End – just northeast of Gainesville, Georgia
South End – near Suwanee, Georgia
- "Happy Birthday to the open road." Gwinnett Daily Post (Lawrenceville, GA), June 25, 2006.
- "Interstate 985 exit overhaul awarded at $75 million." Forsyth County News (Cumming, GA), June 8, 2006.
- "Interstate 85 through Hall? It very nearly was Gov. Ernest Vandiver redirected highway plans in 1950s." The Times (Gainesville, GA), April 13, 2005.
- "Georgia Department of Transportation Breaks Ground on I-85 Express Lanes Extension Project." Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), press release. August 3, 2016.
Page updated July 6, 2017.