I-85 Winston-Salem Connector

First Proposed: 2003
Route Approved: 2005
Signed as Interstate: November 2018

The Route: US 52 from I-85 near Lexington to I-40 in Winston-Salem, 23 miles

(may be extended 10 more miles further north to Winston-Salem Northern Beltway (I-74))


Interstate 285 is the new designation for the US 52 freeway between I-85 and I-40 when the entire stretch, recently upgraded to interstate standards, was signed in November 2018.1 Before the Summer of 2013 it had been hoped the route would be signed by late 2014, see map below:

File of I-285 Route from NCDOT Strategic Highway Corridors website.Map courtesy of NCDOT's Strategic Highway Corridors Website5

Route of I-285



This newest North Carolina interstate highway starts at the I-85/US 29/52/70 interchange (Exit 87) near Lexington and proceeds north up US 52 to its interchange with I-40 in Winston-Salem. Getting an interstate designation for this highway was part of an effort by Winston-Salem and Davidson County officials to boost economic development in the area.2 AASHTO approved the Future I-285 designation on September 8, 2005 after the FHWA approved the number for the highway on June 29 as a Future route citing needed upgrades.2,3 After NCDOT completed the upgrades, both organizations approved the designation as I-285 in early 2018.

Original Plans for Upgrading Route Started Process in Late 2013



Parts of the highway were not up to interstate standards though and had to be improved before full interstate designation could be approved. Though the highway could have been signed by NCDOT as Future I-285 until a project to upgrade the US 52 freeway to interstate standards was complete, this was not the case. In February 2006, NCDOT instead saved some funds by putting up a few 'Future I-285 Corridor' signs along the route. There was at least one southbound after the I-40 interchange and two going northbound, one at the start of the route in Lexington (click for a Photo of this sign) and another after the NC 8 interchange. NCDOT waited until the upgrade project costing $8.2 million (Number R-4750), mostly highway shoulder improvements for only 3.8 miles of the route in Davidson County, was completed in September 2017 (see below).4

Signing Delayed due to Postponed Upgrades



The start date for the upgrade project was changed several times. Originally scheduled for 2011 in 2005 (as promoted in the graphic below), the 2007-2013 STIP released in September 2006 moved up the construction date to 2010.5 However, under revised construction project identifying and funding procedure initiated in 2009 by then new NCDOT Secretary Eugene Conti, a strict 5-Year Construction Project Calendar and a 10-Year Program and Resource Plan were adopted, the I-285 project was then moved back to late 2011. However, no contract was let that year. In 2012 the FY 2013-2022 STIP document put the letting date in 2013 (first in May, then moved to September 2013). However, over the 12-month period between the contract listing and letting, the contract specifications were changed. The project upgrading of the US 52 segment from I-85 to Main Street in Lexington, mostly shoulder widening totaling $7.57 million, was awarded to J.T. Russell & Sons and tied to some unrelated bridge preservation work along the same stretch. Construction began in March 2014 and was completed in June 2015. More work was needed from north of Main Street to I-40 in Winston-Salem, however, this was split off as part of separate project, U-2826 (see below), and did not qualify for funds under NCDOT's Strategic Mobility Initiative which ranks construction projects by their statewide, regional, or local importance. Apparently enough work was completed through several lower cost District level projects that upgraded several bridges and an interchange to satisfy the federal authorities. NCDOT completed the work in September 2017 and got approval from the FHWA to sign the route in February 2018.6 AASHTO approved the signing of I-285 on May 21, 2018.7 NCDOT put up ground-mounted I-285 signs along the route in November 2018. Changes to overhead signs are to come later with perhaps new exit numbers for all the exit signs.

The initial designation of the route as an interstate was also delayed by AASHTO. Their approval comes after a rejection earlier that year at the May 6, 2005 meeting of AASHTO's Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering of NCDOT's first application to have this route designated first as I-185 in 2003. An I-285 shield for this route first appeared on NCDOT's "Strategic Highway Corridors" Triad Area Vision map of September 2004 with a disclaimer stating the route number had not officially been approved at that time by the FHWA or AASHTO.*8

Photos, courtesy of Strider


Image of newly placed I-285 shield on reassurance marker along US 52/NC 8 South in Winston-Salem, by Strider
South I-285 reassurance marker placed atop existing US 52 and NC 8 markers south of Winston-Salem.

Image of newly placed South I-285 reassurance marker on US 52 freeway near Lexington, by Strider
A larger I-285 shield in place along US 52 South after NC 8 leaves the freeway.

Image of newly placed North I-285 shield on US 29/52 North, US 70 East in Lexington, replacing Business 85 shield, by Strider
Returning northbound in Lexington, North I-285 replaces Business 85 in the reassurance marker assembly.

Image of newly placed North I-285 reassurance marker, replacing Business 85 on sign assembly for US 29/52 North, US 70 East freeway in Lexington
Another example approaching the split of I-285/US 52 North and US 29 North/US 70 East. I-285 again replacing Business 85.

A Further I-285 Extension?



As shown in the Strategic Corridors Triad Area map above, I-285 is shown as extending north another 10 miles through Winston-Salem to what will be the intersection with the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway (I-74/I-274). A note on the map says the "I-285 Shield is Extended from I-40 to I-74 if US 52 is Improved to Interstate Standards."8 NCDOT now estimates upgrading of this stretch of US 52 would cost at least $500 million.1 A project to upgrade US 52 appeared in the 2009-2015 STIP, Number U-2826. This would be a design-build project, construction was originally totally unfunded when it first was announced in 2008, however the 2009 State TIP indicated funding for right-of-way had started and that some construction, a new railroad bridge and reconstruction between Stadium Drive and Akron Drive, totaling $14 million, would take place between fiscal years 2010 and 2012. Based on a post in the Yahoo Group SERoads, this project had put the bridge is up as of August 2009. The rest of the project is unfunded, meaning it does not appear in the current STIP.9

File of graphic showing route of I-285 produced by the Winston-Salem JournalMap courtesy of the Winston-Salem Journal (www.journalnow.com)2


I-285 Exit List

Route Signed as:

Current Exit Number

(US 52 Mileage)

Proposed

I-285 Exit Number

Exit Sign

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up! US 29 shield image from wikimedia  US 52 shield image from wikimedia US 70 shield image by wikimedia

--

-- (SB)

I-85 NC shield image by Shields Up!South US 29 shield image from wikimedia South US 52 shield image by wikimedia South  US 70 shield image by wikimedia West Salisbury Charlotte

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up! US 29 shield image from wikimedia US 52 shield image from wikimedia US 70 shield image by wikimedia

84

1A (SB)

NC 47 shield image from Shields Up! East to I-85 shield image by wikimedia North Linwood

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up! US 29 shield image from wikimedia US 52 shield image from wikimedia US 70 shield image by wikimedia

85

1 (1B SB)

Green Needles Rd

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up! US 29 shield image from wikimedia US 52 shield image from wikimedia US 70 shield image by wikimedia

86

2

Salisbury Rd

Downtown Lexington

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia

87

3

Business Loop 85 shield image from Shields Up!North* US 29 shield image by wikimedia North US 70 shield image by wikimedia East

Thomasville High Point

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia

89

5

 US 64 shield image from wikimedia Lexington Mocksville

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

92

8

 NC 8 shield image from wikimedia South

Welcome

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

97

13

Old US 52

Midway

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

100

16

Hickory Tree Rd

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

103

19

South Main St

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

105

21

Clemmonsville Rd

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

107A

23A (NB)

 I-40 NC shield image by Shields UpEast US 311 shield image by wikimedia South

Greensboro High Point

I-285 NC shield image by Shields Up!US 52 shield image from wikimedia NC 8 shield image from wikimedia

107B

23B (NB)

 I-40 NC shield image by Shields UpWest

 Statesville

I-285 exit numbers not official and assume that NCDOT switches numbers from current US 52 mileage based exits.

*NCDOT may decommission Business 85 or at least not place it on reassurance marker or main exit signs.