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Interstate 85

  • Interstate 85 North Carolina

  • In North Carolina, I-85 merges with I-40 from Greensboro to Hillsborough, just west of Durham. In Alamance County, the highway is also known as the Sam Hunt Freeway.

    South Carolina state line to Charlotte
    Immediately upon coming into North Carolina, drivers will realize that Charlotte, North Carolina is still 45 minutes away. This is because Interstate 85 takes a more west to east routing along with U.S. Route 29 and U.S. Route 74, nears Kings Mountain.

    Drivers will go through Gastonia and will eventually reach Charlotte with the option to bypass using Interstate 485.

    Charlotte to Greensboro
    In Charlotte, I-85 bypasses Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and turns northeastward just before reaching downtown Charlotte; thus I-85 just bypasses downtown to the north.

    The junction between I-85 and Interstate 77 north of downtown Charlotte is a strange configuration. While I-85 passes under I-77, the northbound lanes of I-77 are to the west of I-77's southbound lanes. The travel lanes on I-77 return to their proper positions north and south of this interchange.

    North of Charlotte, the highway passes near Concord, where one can see the Lowes Motor Speedway. There is much dedication to the Earnhardt family as there are many roads named using his name, such as Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and North Carolina Highway 3.

    At milepost 98, the northbound lanes of I-85 cross under the southbound lanes, and cross back to the correct configuration near milepost 102. This results in motorists driving to the left of opposing traffic for approximately three miles (5 km). The switch is not very noticeable, because the roadways are separated by up to 400 feet (123 m) of woods in this area. A rest area and Vietnam Veterans memorial are located in the median of this section, so the crossover allows for all exits into the rest area to be normal right-hand exits.

    Greensboro to Durham
    Continuing northbound, I-85 passes though or near Salisbury, Lexington and High Point before reaching Greensboro. At Greensboro, I-85 shifts to its new bypass routing, away from downtown. On the eastern side of the city, I-85 joins Interstate 40. The former I-85 routing nearest downtown Greensboro (now Business I-85/Interstate 40) is also notorious for many traffic accidents and is nicknamed "Death Valley".

    The two highways are cosigned as they pass through Burlington and and Mebane then separate near Hillsborough. Interstate 85 continues to Durham while Interstate 40 turns toward Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Around this area, one can visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham.

    Durham to Virginia state line
    From Durham, I-85 turns northeastward and heads toward Virginia. Until replaced during a recent upgrade, signs for Richmond used to exist in this part of North Carolina even though the end of the road is in Petersburg, Virginia.