Interstate 285 (Georgia)

Interstate 285 (I-285) is an Interstate Highway loop encircling Atlanta, Georgia, for 63.98 miles (102.97 km).[1] It connects the three major interstate highways to Atlanta: I-20, I-75 and I-85. Colloquially referred to as The Perimeter, it also carries unsigned State Route 407 (SR 407), and is signed as Atlanta Bypass on I-20, I-75, and I-85.

Interstate 285 marker

Interstate 285

The Perimeter
I-285 highlighted in red
Route information
Auxiliary route of I-85
Maintained by GDOT
Length63.98 mi[1] (102.97 km)
Major junctions
Beltway around Atlanta
Major intersections
CountryUnited States
CountiesClayton, Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb
Highway system
  • Georgia State Highway System
SR 284 SR 285
SR 406SR 407 SR 408

Because of suburban sprawl, it is estimated that more than two million people use the highway each day, making it the one of the busiest interstates in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the United States. During rush hour, portions of the highway slow, sometimes to a crawl.

Route descriptionEdit

I-285 is eight to twelve lanes wide, with the northern part from I-75 to SR 400 to I-85 the most heavily traveled. One segment of the highway near Spaghetti Junction (a large, flyover highway interchange northeast of Atlanta) with I-85 widens to eighteen lanes, including collector-distributor lanes. Exits are numbered clockwise, starting at the southwesternmost point at I-85, and ending just east of there where it meets I-85 again near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Between I-85 and I-20 in southwest Fulton County, I-285 is designated as the Bob A. Holmes Freeway, where I-285 heads north, and has an interchange with the Langford Parkway. Between I-20 in northwest Atlanta and I-75 near Cumberland Mall, it is designated as the James E. 'Billy' McKinney Highway as it continues north, and starts to curve to the east just west of the I-75 interchange.

The northern portion of I-285, east of the Cobb Cloverleaf (I-75 interchange) to Spaghetti Junction (I-85 interchange), is frequently referred to as the Top End Perimeter. This section, which includes an interchange with SR 400 at exit 27 (frequently cited as the most dangerous intersections in Atlanta), is one of the busiest freeways in the United States, handling about 250,000 cars per day and crossing through Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, with several interchanges (SR 141, SR 13, and I-85) bringing additional traffic to and from Gwinnett County. Through that stretch, the freeway expands from six or eight lanes to between ten and fourteen lanes.

While I-285 does not travel through Gwinnett County, the highway travels very close to the DeKalb–Gwinnett county line,[3] and many major highways in Gwinnett County connect to I-285, with some prominent ones being US 78, I-85, and SR 141. Major Gwinnett cities near I-285 are Peachtree Corners and Norcross.

From exit 25 to exit 27, I-285 is concurrent with US 19.

Much of Atlanta's high-end commercial real estate has developed along I-285, particularly at the northwestern I-75 and the SR 400 interchanges. Notable buildings include the 35-story King and Queen towers in the Perimeter Center business district and the Cobb Galleria complex in the Cumberland/Galleria area.

East of Spaghetti Junction, I-285's direction switches from east to south, as it connects with the Stone Mountain Freeway at exit 39, and has an interchange with I-20 at exit 46, where I-285 starts to curve towards the southwest. At exit 52, it has an interchange with Interstate 675, and heads straight west after the interchange with I-75 near the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I-285 at the I-20 interchange east of Atlanta

A portion of the section between I-75 and I-85 on the south side of I-285 has been bridged with a new runway and taxiway of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of only two interstates in the nation (along with I-564 in Norfolk, VA) to have an underpass beneath a runway (underpasses for taxiways do occur elsewhere). Computer animations were developed prior to construction to simulate a jumbo jet touching down on the runway from a driver's perspective. The entire highway within the tunnels is outfitted with stopped-vehicle sensors and fire detectors. Two electronic signs on either side of the tunnels can warn drivers if the tunnel is closed in an emergency. For 1.21 miles (1.95 km) in the southwest corner, I-85 occupies the median of I-285, yet the roadways remain separate.[1]

Heavy trucks traveling through (but not into) Atlanta are required to bypass the city on I-285, as there is a well-signed and heavily enforced ban on through truck traffic along I-75, I-85, I-20, SR 400, and many other major Atlanta thoroughfares. As with highways just outside I-285, trucks are also prohibited from the far-left one or two lanes (except where there are left exits open to trucks).

The complete circumference of I-285 is covered by Georgia NaviGAtor, Georgia's intelligent transportation system (ITS). There have been 153 CCTV traffic cameras, 26 electronic message signs, and traffic-detection sensors installed in phases between 1999 and 2010 by Georgia DOT. Additionally, ramp meters are present at nearly all entrance ramps onto I-285, with the exception of the southeast section of I-285 and the major freeway-to-freeway connection ramps.

To many residents of Atlanta, the Perimeter defines a useful boundary to separate metro Atlanta's core from its surrounding suburbs. People distinguish a location as being inside or outside the Perimeter, sometimes abbreviated as ITP and OTP, a recent local neologism.[4] This was also the rough boundary chosen by BellSouth for separating landline telephone exchanges in suburban area code 770 from the existing area code 404 in 1995.[5] Generally, 404 is Atlanta itself and most suburbs inside the Perimeter, while 770 serves most of the suburbs outside the Perimeter.

The entire length of I-285 is part of the National Highway System, a system of routes determined to be the most important for the nation's economy, mobility, and defense.[6]


Atlanta, Georgia 1955 Yellow Book with I-285 route

I-285 was completed and opened in sections, with the entire highway officially opened on October 15, 1969 at a cost of $90 million, as a four-lane freeway throughout (two lanes each way).[citation needed]

The reconstruction of I-285, particularly on the top-end and the Spaghetti Junction reconfiguration (covered by the revive285 project), has cost about $355 million.[citation needed]

Until 2000, the state of Georgia used the sequential interchange numbering system on all of its Interstate highways. The first exit on each highway began with the number "1" and increase numerically with each exit. In 2000, the Georgia Department of Transportation switched to a mileage-based exit system, in which the exit number corresponded to the nearest milepost.[7][8]

Georgia DOT voted in September 2012 to raise the speed limit from 55 to 65 miles per hour (90 to 105 km/h) on the entire freeway, and by 2013 to install electronic signs for variable speed limits north of I-20, to lower the speed limit when traffic or weather conditions warrant. This is intended to keep traffic moving at a reduced but steady speed, rather than suddenly braking drivers causing traffic to "clot" simply because other drivers are also braking (which causes unnecessary stop-and-go traffic).[9]

In 2013, there were 26 fatal accidents on I-285, giving it the highest rate of such accidents per 10 miles (16 km) of any interstate in the country.[10]


Since the 1970s, the Georgia Department of Transportation has planned an outer loop, which would be a roughly 230-mile-long (370 km) circumferential loop around metropolitan Atlanta. Under Governor Sonny Perdue, the plans were dropped from the Regional Transportation Plan, in favor of the expansion of the rural state road network outside of Atlanta. The state will instead widen portions of state route 20 in north metro Atlanta, along a similar alignment to the Northern Arc.[11]

Georgia DOT broke ground in November 2017 on major improvements to the I-285 / SR 400 interchange. The project includes collector/distributor roads along I-285 and SR 400, the addition of a diverging diamond interchange at SR 400 and Abernathy Road, and new flyover ramps.[12] The project has total costs of $800 million and construction is expected to be complete in late 2020.[13][needs update]

In January 2016, governor Nathan Deal announced the major mobility investment program (MMIP), a collection of mega projects planned around the state. The program includes the addition of express lanes on I-285 from I-20 / exit 10 across the north end of Atlanta to I-20 / exit 46. The program also includes reconstructing the interchanges with I-20.[14]

The MMIP will construct two express lanes in each direction between Paces Ferry Road / mile 19 and Henderson Road / mile 35.[15] This segment includes the addition of express lanes through major interchanges with I-75, Georgia 400, and I-85. Other projects will construct one express lane in each direction between I-20 / exit 10 and Paces Ferry Road,[16] and from Henderson Road to I-20 / exit 46.[17] The completion of all express lanes is planned in 2032.[18]

On July 31, 2012, metro-area voters rejected the T-SPLOST comprehensive transportation plan that was to be funded by an additional one-percent sales tax over a ten-year period. Among the projects included in the plan was a new exit on I-285 at Greenbriar Parkway on the southwest side of Atlanta (between present exits 2 & 5), as well as major reconstruction of interchanges at exits 27 (US 19/SR 400), 10 (I-20 west of Atlanta) and 33 (I-85 northeast of Atlanta).[19][20]

Exit listEdit

The following exits are listed clockwise from the southwest: going south to north, west to east, north to south and east to west. An exception is that heading counter-clockwise, exit 33 comes before exit 34.

CountyLocationmikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
FultonEast Point1.161.8721Washington Road
2.624.2232  Camp Creek Parkway (SR 6) – Domestic Terminals
SR 154 north / SR 166 east (Langford Parkway)
Cloverstack interchange
SR 154 south / SR 166 west (Campbellton Road)
7.2811.7257Cascade RoadFormer SR 154
9.4515.2169  SR 139 (Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) – Adamsville
10.2516.50710  I-20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway, Tom Murphy Freeway, SR 402) – Atlanta, Downtown, BirminghamI-20 exits 51; signed as exits 10A (east, Atlanta) and 10B (west, Birmingham); formerly 7A and 7B, respectively
11.8319.04812    US 78 / US 278 / SR 8 (Hollowell Parkway)
12.8020.60913Bolton RoadClockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance; former SR 70
CobbSmyrna14.8623.911015  SR 280 (South Cobb Drive) – Smyrna
16.1626.011116South Atlanta Road – SmyrnaFormer US 41/SR 3
17.6928.471218Paces Ferry Road – Vinings
19.2030.901319  US 41 (Cobb Parkway / SR 3) – Dobbins ARB, Truist ParkCounterclockwise exit part of exit 20
19.8631.961420  I-75 (SR 401) – Atlanta, ChattanoogaI-75 exit 259; Cobb Cloverleaf
FultonSandy Springs21.87–
1522Northside Drive, New Northside Drive, Powers Ferry Road
23.5737.931624Riverside Drive
  US 19 south / SR 9 (Roswell Road) – Sandy Springs
Counterclockwise end of US 19 concurrency
26.1942.151826Glenridge Drive / Glenridge ConnectorClockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance; former SR 407 Loop
  US 19 north / SR 400 – Atlanta, Dahlonega, Cumming
Clockwise end of US 19 concurrency; SR 400 exit 4
26.8143.152028Peachtree-Dunwoody RoadCounterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance
DeKalbDunwoody27.6544.502129Ashford-Dunwoody RoadDiverging diamond interchange (completed June 3, 2012)[21][22]
2230Chamblee-Dunwoody Road / North Shallowford Road / North Peachtree Road
Doraville30.8449.632331  SR 141 (Peachtree Industrial Boulevard) – ChambleeSigned as exits 31A (south) and 31B (north)
24Tilly Mill Road / Flowers RoadExit removed in the 1990s during I-285 reconfiguration; now part of exit 31B northbound
31.8451.242532   US 23 / SR 13 (Buford Highway) – Doraville
32.9853.082633  I-85 (SR 403) – Atlanta, Greenville, CharlotteI-85 exit 95; Spaghetti Junction; signed as exits 33A (south) and 33B (north) clockwise
Tucker33.6054.072734Chamblee-Tucker RoadClockwise exit part of exit 33A
36.0157.9527A36Northlake ParkwayClockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance
36.3458.482837  SR 236 (LaVista Road) – Tucker
37.7160.692938   US 29 / SR 8 (Lawrenceville Highway) – Tucker
Stone Mountain38.4961.943039  US 78 (Stone Mountain Freeway / SR 410) – Decatur, Atlanta, Snellville, AthensSigned as exits 39A (west) and 39B (east); US 78 exit 2
39.3863.383140East Ponce de Leon Avenue – ClarkstonClockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance
39.4163.423140Church Street – ClarkstonCounterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance
41.2366.353241  SR 10 (Memorial Drive) – Avondale Estates
42.0267.6232A42    Indian Creek Transit StationCounterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance
43.1969.513343   US 278 / SR 12 (Covington Highway)
44.2671.233444Glenwood RoadFormer SR 260
Panthersville45.9974.013546  I-20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway, Purple Heart Highway, SR 402) – Atlanta, AugustaI-20 east exit 67; signed as exits 46A (west, Atlanta) and 46B (east, Augusta) counter clockwise, formerly 35A and 35B, respectively
47.9077.093648  SR 155 (Flat Shoals Road) / Candler Road
50.7281.633751Bouldercrest Road
I-675 south (SR 413) – Macon, Tampa
I-675 exit 11; northern terminus of I-675
52.8184.993953   US 23 / SR 42 (Moreland Avenue) – Fort Gillem
FultonAtlanta54.7388.084055  SR 54 (Jonesboro Road) – Forest Park
56.6091.0941A58    US 19 / US 41 / SR 3 (Old Dixie Road) – East Point, Forest ParkPart of exit that connects with an interchange of I-75 and SR 85 by using CD lanes
Clayton57.3992.364158   I-75 (SR 401) – Macon, Tampa, International Terminal, Atlanta
SR 85 south – Riverdale
I-75 exit 238; northern terminus of SR 85; northbound lanes of SR 85 have no access to I-75 and I-285
4259Clark Howell Highway, Loop Road – Air CargoClockwise exit is part of exit 58
59.8796.354360  SR 139 (Riverdale Road)
county line
College Park61.2898.624461   I-85 (SR 403) – Columbus, Montgomery, Domestic Terminals, AtlantaI-85 north exit 68, south exit 70
162   SR 14 Conn. (South Fulton Parkway) / SR 279 (Old National Highway)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

In popular cultureEdit

Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Pérez became widely associated with I-285 after he got lost on it while trying to drive to a game. On August 19, 1982, Pérez, who had just received his first U.S. driver's license, decided to drive himself to Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium (where the Braves played their home games at the time), where he was scheduled to start that evening's game against the Montreal Expos. He was unable to find the proper exit and circled the city several times before running out of gas and calling for help. When Pérez failed to arrive at the stadium by game time, the Braves called upon veteran pitcher Phil Niekro to make the emergency start. The Braves, who had been mired in a 2–19 slump, won the game,[23] kicking off a 13–2 winning streak that carried the team to the National League West division title. The team subsequently made for Pérez a warm-up jacket with the notation "I-285" in place of his uniform number.[24] The humor of the incident was credited for helping to improve the morale of the team and breaking the losing streak.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Route Log - Auxiliary Routes of the Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways - Table 2". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  2. ^ State Highway Department of Georgia (1963). State Highway System and Other Principal Connecting Roads (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Atlanta: State Highway Department of Georgia. OCLC 5673161. Retrieved February 11, 2017. (Corrected to June 1, 1963.)
  3. ^ "Gwinnett Village to I-85".
  4. ^ "For Atlanta homebuyers, ITP vs. OTP boundary wars have ended". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  5. ^ McKay, John and Bonnie (2001). Insiders' Guide to Atlanta (8th ed.). Morris Book Publishing, LLC. p. 2. ISBN 9780762745524. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  6. ^ National Highway System: Atlanta, GA (PDF) (Map). Federal Highway Administration. May 9, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  7. ^ Georgia's Interstate Exit Numbers Archived 2004-02-15 at the Wayback Machine Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.
  8. ^ Interstate 20 Exit Renumbering Page Archived 2002-06-05 at the Wayback Machine Georgia Department of Transportation - online. Accessed April 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "AJC - 285 may see variable speed limit signs". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  10. ^ Frostenson, Sarah (6 November 2015). "The 10 deadliest interstates in America, mapped". Vox. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  11. ^ "State Route 20 Improvements". Georgia DOT. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  12. ^ "I-285 & SR 400 Improvements". Georgia DOT. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  13. ^ Wickert, David (2019-04-19). "Extra work delays I-285/Ga. 400 interchange project". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  14. ^ Bluestein, Greg (2016-01-12). "Gov. Nathan Deal unveils 10-year, $10 billion transportation plan". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  15. ^ "I-285 Top End Express Lanes". Major Mobility Investment Program. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  16. ^ "I-285 Westside Express Lanes". Major Mobility Investment Program. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  17. ^ "I-285 Eastside Express Lanes". Major Mobility Investment Program. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  18. ^ Wickert, David (2019-10-08). "Georgia DOT's new road-building timeline: more details". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2012-03-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Voters reject transportation tax". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Diverging Diamond to Open June 4". Sandy Springs, Georgia Patch. 2012-05-25. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  22. ^ Mike Morris and Patrick Fox (June 4, 2012). "First Monday commute on new interchange goes smoothly". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  23. ^ "Atlanta Braves 5, Montreal Expos 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  24. ^ Card Junk (2012-04-12). "Turner Field—Braves Hall of Fame Museum". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  25. ^ Garrity, John (23 May 1983). "He Has Found The Way to Go". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 23 February 2014.

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata