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

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


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  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 had to wait until March and April 2020, plans for that contract indicated there were to be no changes to exit numbers at that time.

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

Recent Photos of New Signage:


Photos taken of New I-285 exit signs, trailblazer, ramp, and reassurance marker signage by Adam Prince on May 9, 2020:

Image of newly placed ground mounted exit sign for NC 47 on I-85 South in Lexington with new I-285 shield and text, by Adam Prince, May 9, 2020

New exit sign on I-85 South with added To I-285 North information.

Image of North I-285/US 52 trailblazers on North NC 47 in Lexington, by Adam Prince, May 9, 2020

Trailblazers at the end of the ramp to NC 47 from I-85 South.


Image of new I-285 ramp signage north of Lexington, by Adam Prince on May 9, 2020

New I-285 and US 52 signage at the beginning of NC 47 South in Lexington, the route is also US 29 / 70 at this location.


Image of now duplicate North I-285/US 29/US 52 and East US 70 reassurance markerse with newly placed reassurance marker sign in background in Lexington, by Adam Prince, May 9, 2020

Now duplicate reassurance marker signage not removed with placement of new sign in distance.

Photos of new overhead signs taken by Strider on April 24, 2020, starting on I-85 North in Lexington:


Image of newly placed 2-mile advance sign for North I-285/US 52 exit (missing references to US 29 and US 70) on I-85 North in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The new 2-mile advance overhead with reference to I-285 (no more mention of US 29 or US 70).

Image of newly placed 1-mile advance sign for I-285/US 52 North exit on I-85 North in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The 1-Mile advance sign heading further north. What the previous sign looked like, from Google Maps Street View in October 2019:

Google Maps Street View image of 1-mile advance sign for US 29/US 52 North, US 70 East (Business Loop 85 North) exit in Lexington, taken in Oct. 2019


Image of new auxiliary sign for US 29 (North) and US 70 (East) for I-285/US 52 exit on I-85 North in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The only mention now of US 29 and US 70 is on this auxiliary sign about 3/4 mile before the I-285/US 52 North exit.

Image of overhead ramp signage for I-285/US 52 North exit on I-85 North in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The overheads at the ramp itself.

Image of newly placed reassurance marker sign, in front of older signs, in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

While the crew responsible for putting up the new reassurance marker sign in Lexington has done its job, still waiting for those responsible to remove the (not so) old signs in the distance.

Image of signage for US 29 North/US 70 East exit on I-285/US 52 North, no more reference to Business 85, by Strider, April 2020

The 1-Mile advance sign for the split of US 29/US 70 from I-285/US 52 North, no more reference to Business Loop 85 on the signs.

Image of recently placed Business Loop 85 sign along I-285/US 29/US 52 North, US 70 East in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The only reference to Business 85 is this recycled auxiliary sign, formerly on I-85, conveniently with the same exit number. This sign will be removed when the removal of all Business 85 signs from US 29/70 is completed.

Image of newly placed overhead signage for I-285/US 52 North at split with US 29 (Business Loop 85) North/US 70 East in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The new overhead pull through and exit signs at split of I-285/US 52 North and US 29 North/US 70 East (Business 85).

Here is what the signs were prior to the recent replacement, via Google Maps Street View in June 2019:

Google Maps Street View image of overhead signage at split of US 52 North from Business 85/US 29 North, US 70 East in June 2019

Image of newly place End I-285 sign heading north at I-40 in Winston-Salem, by Strider, April 2020

The (temporary) new End I-285 sign approaching I-40 in Winston-Salem.

Heading onto I-40 East:

Image of new exit sign for I-285/US 52 South (and removal of NC 8) on I-40 East in Winston-Salem, by Strider, April 2020

The new overhead adds I-285 South but removes reference to NC 8 South.

Image of new overhead signs at I-285 South/US 52 exits on I-40 West in Winston-Salem with removal of US 311 and NC 8 shields, by Strider, April 2020

These signs heading west on I-40 are missing both NC 8 and US 311, for the US 52 North sign.

Heading back south:

Image of newly placed South I-285/US 52 reassurance marker sign in Forsyth County, by Strider, April 2020

A South I-285/US 52 reassurance marker sign, with 'old' signs behind it prior to the NC 8 exit in Davidson County.

Image of South I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker sign recently installed in Davidson County, by Strider, April 2020

The signage after NC 8 joins I-285/US 52 South prior to Lexington, the old signage seems to have been taken down here.

Image of recently installed End I-285 sign at merge of I-285/US 29/US 52 South, US 70 West with I-85 in Lexington, by Strider, April 2020

The newly placed End I-285 sign on the ramp to I-85 South in Lexington.

New I-40 1 and 1/4 Mile advanced sign on I-285 North with US 311 shield removed, as with exit sign seen in traffic camera image below, at the Clemmonsville Road exit, photo by Strider, July 2, 2020:

Image of overhead advance sign for I-40 exit on I-285 North without US 311 shield after route decommissioned south of Winston-Salem, photo by Strider, July 2020

EARLIER PHOTOS

Traffic camera image of I-40 East Exit showing removal of US 311 as part of I-285 sign replacement contract in early April 2020:

Traffic camera image of newly placed exit sign for I-40 East on I-285/US 52 North in Winston-Salem, with US 311 shield now absent, put up in April 2020

Contractor started placing new overhead signs with I-285 signs on I-85 in late March 2020:

Image of newly placed overhead sign for I-285 and US 52 North on I-85 North in Lexington, by Billy Riddle on March 24, 2020

Lanes are closed for placement of new signs with I-285 shields, this one the 1/2 mile advance, at split of I-85 North and US 29-52-70 in Lexington.

Image of sign contractors placing new overhead ramp sign with I-285 shield at former Business 85 exit on I-85 North in Lexington, by Billy Riddle on March 24, 2020

The contractors have just mounted the new I-285/US 52 North sign at the ramp split on I-85 North

Image of newly placed ground mounted North I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker sign in Forsyth County, by Billy Riddle on March 24, 2020

They have also started placing the new reassurance marker signs, here after the NC 8 exit south of Winston-Salem, these replace the reassurance markers seen below put up in the fall of 2018. The sign replacement work should be completed by the end of April 2020.

EARLIER PHOTOS:

Google Street View mage of reassurance markers placed in the fall of 2018 southbound in Forsyth County, taken in June 2019

From Google Maps Street View, the first I-285 reassurance marker headed south after the I-40 exit in Winston-Salem, from June 2019.

Google Maps Street View image of last set of North I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance markers before I-40 exit in Winston-Salem, taken in June 2019

Google Maps Street View image of last set of North I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance markers in Winston-Salem, from June 2019

Google Maps Street View image of set of South I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance markers near Midway in Davidson County, taken in June 2019

Another Street View image of a set of South I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance markers in Davidson County in June 2019

Image of new reassurance marker assembly for North I-285/US 52/NC 8 placed on freeway in Forsyth County in Nov. 2018, by J. Austin Carter
This reassurance marker assembly is on one post.

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.

I-285 Sign Plans




In May 2019 NCDOT posted plans for a contract to update overhead signs along I-40, I-85 and I-285, related to the establishment of that interstate, and along I-40 and I-74 related to the decommissioning of US 311 (for sign images related to I-74, see the I-74 Segment 5 page) for a Division 9 project that was to be let on May 22. This letting was later postponed and rescheduled for September 25. The sign plans below now only includes those without photos above, for I-285 itself:



Plans for signs, at US 64 ramps: Image of NCDOT sign plan for new ramp signs at US 64 interchange with I-285/US 52 in Lexington  

The only other exit signs now without photos are advance signs on I-285 to be modified to reflect the decommissioning of US 311 south of Winston-Salem:

Image of NCDOT sign plan for I-40 advance and Clemmonsville Road exit ramp sign on I-285/US 52/NC 8 North in Winston-Salem



A Further I-285 Extension



As seen in the 2006 Strategic Corridors Triad Area map above, I-285 is shown as extending north another 11 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 estimates upgrading of this stretch of US 52 would cost at least $500 million.1 A project to upgrade US 52 first 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, the bridge was put up as of August 2009. The rest of the project is unfunded, meaning it does not appear in the current STIP.9 In the spring of 2019, NCDOT submitted an application to the AASHTO Special Committee on US Route Numbering for designation of US 52 from I-40 north to the future I-74/I-274 Winston-Salem interchange as Future I-285 which was approved on May 20.10 It included this map of the extension:

Image of map of proposed I-285 extension submitted by NCDOT to AASHTO for approval in May 2019, map created in Nov. 2018

It is unknown whether this new designation will speed up any further planned upgrades along US 52 that will be needed before the extension can be signed as I-285, or whether any Future I-285 signs will go up in the meantime.


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)

Future

I-285 Exit Number?

Exit Sign**

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 29/US 52/US 70 reassurance marker sign

84

1A (SB)

Sign Maker image of NC 47 exit on I-285 in Lexington
Sign Maker image of I-285/US 29/US 52/US 70 reassurance marker sign

85

1 (1B SB)

Sign Maker image of Green Needles Road exit sign on I-285 South in Lexington

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 29/US 52/US 70 reassurance marker sign

86

2

Sign Maker image of Salisbury Road exit sign on I-285 in Lexington

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52 reassurance marker sign

87

3

Business Loop 85 shield image from Shields Up!*Sign Maker image of overhead exit sign for US 29 North/US 70 East, Business 85 unsigned on I-285 North in Lexington

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52 reassurance marker sign

89

5

  Sign Maker image of US 64 exit on I-285 in Lexington

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

92

8

Sign Maker image of NC 8 South exit sign on I-285 in Welcome

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

97

13

Sign Maker image of Old US 52 exit sign on I-285 in Midway

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

100

16

Sign Maker image of Hickory Tree Road exit on I-285 in Clemmons

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

103

19

Sign Maker image of South Main Street exit sign on I-285 in Clemmons

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

105

21

Sign Maker image of Clemmonsville Road exit sign on I-285 in Winston-Salem

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

107A

23A (NB)

Sign Maker image of I-40 East exit sign on I-285 North in Winston-Salem

Sign Maker image of I-285/US 52/NC 8 reassurance marker shield

107B

23B (NB)

 Sign Maker image of I-40 overhead exit sign at end of I-285 North in Winston-Salem

I-285 exit numbers, for now, will use current US 52 mileage based numbers.

*NCDOT plans to decommission Business 85 and did not place it on new exit signs that went up in the fall of 2019, reassurance markers for Business 85 do remain, and a new auxiliary sign for Business 85 went up prior to the exit on I-285 North.

**Created with Sign Maker software, available at: https://brenstro.me/SignMaker