Interstate 85 North - Mecklenburg County

Home » Guides » North Carolina » Interstate 85 North - Mecklenburg County

Interstate 85 North
Interstate 85 rises from the Catawba River crossing and nears the first Mecklenburg County interchange, Exit 29 with Sam Wilson Road. Moores Chapel Road (SR 1601) passes over the freeway in this scene. Photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 485 (Exit 30) appears for the first time on the one half mile sign bridge for Sam Wilson Road (SR 1625). Construction of Interstate 485 resulted in the modification of the Exit 29 diamond interchange to extend ramps east from SR 1625 to join I-85 under ramps for the Charlotte Beltway. Photo taken 12/13/08. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center, a $38-million facility opened to the public on November 4, 2006, lies to the northwest of Moores Chapel Road at the end of Whitewater Parkway. The facility is an official training site for Olympic whitewater slalom racing. Photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Sam Wilson Road travels south to U.S. 29 & 74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) and Old Dowd Road (SR 1191) and north to Moores Chapel Road (SR 1601) by a series of industrial parks.
Interstate 485 encircles most of the Charlotte metro area, but remains unconstructed (until December 2014) between North Carolina 115 (Old Statesville Road) and 85 on the northeast side. Photo taken 12/13/08. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 85 north enters the directional cloverleaf interchange (Exit 30) with Interstate 485. I-485 south opened to traffic on October 19, 2004 and north followed on December 15, 2006. As of May 8, 2007, Interstate 485 traveled northeast to North Carolina 16. Extension of the freeway east to Interstate 77 and North Carolina 115 followed on December 5, 2008, resulting in another change to the Exit 30 guide signs pictured here. Photo taken 12/13/08. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 485 loops south from Exit 30 to meet Interstate 77 near the community of Pineville. The completion of the southwest leg of the Charlotte beltway allows motorists to bypass downtown between Gastonia and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Northbound serves growing suburban sprawl along North Carolina 27 and 16. Photo taken 06/22/05. Second photo taken 12/13/08.
The December 5, 2008 opening of Interstate 485 east to Interstate 77 allows motorists to use the beltway to bypass central Charlotte for Huntersville, Statesville, and other points north. Photo taken 12/06/08.
Interstate 85 next approaches a single point urban interchange (SPUI) with Little Rock Road (SR 1641). Photo taken 06/22/05.
Presently Little Rock Road (SR 1641) leads south from South Carolina 27 (Freedom Drive) at Paw Creek in north Charlotte to U.S. 29 & 74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) on the north side of Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). Photo taken 08/11/13.
Little Rock Road leads south from Wilkinson Boulevard to the air cargo section of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. A $21.5-million project started in August 2012 realigns Little Rock Road onto a new roadway leading directly to the passenger terminal at CLT Airport by December 2013.1 Photo taken 06/22/05.
2 photos
2 photos
Industrial businesses, traveler services and lodging buffet the Interstate 85 SPUI (Exit 32) with Little Rock Road (SR 1641). Posted on this sign bridge was the first sign of U.S. 521 (Exit 33), which followed Billy Graham Parkway south from Interstate 85. Photo taken 10/05/01. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Eight lanes of Interstate 85 meet Billy Graham Parkway (Charlotte City 4) south and Mulberry Church Road north at a parclo interchange (Exit 33) in one half mile. Formerly numbered U.S. 521, the four-lane parkway winds southeast by Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Interstate 77 at NC 49 (Tryon Street) and Woodlawn Road.
North Carolina petitioned AASHTO in 2003 successfully for the truncation of U.S. 521 southward to the Interstate 485 interchange (Exit 61) southeast of Pineville. Photo taken 12/30/03. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
Billy Graham Parkway is named after Charlotte native and Christian evangelist Billy Graham. A library documenting the life and ministry of Graham resides off of the parkway and Westmont Drive, midway between CLT Airport and the Tryon Street (NC 49). Photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
Billy Graham Parkway carries Charlotte Route 4 southward to Birmingham Parkway, the main entrance to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and Woodlawn Road near the Regional Farmers Market. City 4 encircles central Charlotte along a series of arterials between Exits 33 and 41 of Interstate 85. Photo taken 06/22/05. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
Interstate 85 bends northeastward through an industrial area to Tuckaseegee Road and North Carolina 27 (Freedom Drive) at Exit 34. Photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
With frontage roads in place, Interstate 85 nears the half diamond interchange with Tuckaseegee Road and the SPUI with North Carolina 27 (Freedom Drive). Tuckaseegee Road joins the freeway with the Freedom Mall commercial area while North Carolina 27 enters from Paw Creek and the northwestern suburbs.
With declining sales, the 1964 opened Freedom Mall was purchased by Mecklenburg County in 2003 for $6.6-million. The building was converted into county offices as part of the Valerie C. Woodard Center.2 Photo taken 12/30/08. Second photo taken 06/22/05.
Exit 34 departs Interstate 85 north for Tuckaseegee Road and North Carolina 27. North Carolina 27 follows Freedom Drive southeast to combine with U.S. 29 (Morehead Street) into downtown. Photo taken 08/11/13.
Tuckaseegee Road leads west from Exit 34 to parallel Interstate 85 to Interstate 485 (Exit 9). Photo taken 06/22/05.
The original cloverleaf interchange at NC 27 (Freedom Drive) was rebuilt into a SPUI as part of a $70-million project from 1991 to August 1995 to widen Interstate 85 through western Mecklenburg County. The expansion project brought I-85 up to eight lanes from Moores Chapel Road east to just west of the Brookshire Freeway (NC 16).3 Photo taken 06/22/05.
Interstate 85 northbound nears the Glenwood Drive diamond interchange (Exit 35). Glenwood Drive is a local roadway connecting the Enderly Park neighborhood at Tuckaseegee Road with the Thomasboro neighborhood at Hoskins Road. Photo taken 06/22/05.
U.S. 74 leaves the Interstate 85 corridor by way of downtown Charlotte east for its journey to Monroe, Rockingham, and Wilmington. Exit 35 provides a direct route to the US highway via Brookshire Boulevard (NC 16) and Interstate 277 (Brookshire Freeway) east. Photo taken 08/11/13.
An auxiliary lane between Exits 35 and 36 increases the freeway capacity to ten overall lanes. Upcoming is the SPUI with North Carolina 16 (Brookshire Boulevard). NC 16 totals 155 miles in the state between NC 75 at Waxhaw and the Virginia state line north of Grassy Creek. Together with Virginia 16 and WV 16, the multi-state route travels 462 miles to St. Mary's. Photo taken 08/11/13.
The Exit 36 off-ramp departs ahead of the Rozzelles Ferry Road (former NC 16) overpass at the Oakview Terrace neighborhood. Leading southeast from the Thomasboro community, North Carolina 16 represents an important link from I-85 to Interstate 77 & U.S. 21 and downtown Charlotte. Brookshire Boulevard upgrades to Brookshire Freeway at Idaho Drive, providing a high-speed route to Interstate 277 and U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard) east. Photo taken 08/11/13.
Rounding a bend ahead of Stewart Creek, Interstate 85 motorists see the first sign for Interstate 77 & U.S. 21 (Exit 38). Meeting I-85 in one mile is Beatties Ford Road (Exit 37) at the Garden Park and University Park neighborhoods. Photo taken 08/11/13.
Entering the folded diamond interchange (Exit 37) with Beatties Ford Road on I-85 north. Beatties Ford Road shadows Interstate 77 & U.S. 21 to the west from 5th Street and Johnson C. Smith University at the Biddleville neighborhood north to North Carolina 73 near Huntersville. Photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
The Beatties Ford Road on-ramp adds a fifth northbound lane to the directional cloverleaf interchange (Exit 38) with Interstate 77 & U.S. 21. Traveling 102 miles in the state, I-77 links Charlotte with Rock Hill and Columbia to the south and Statesville and Wytheville, Virginia to the north. Photo taken 06/22/05. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
2 photos
2 photos
The junction between Interstates 85 and 77 is unusual as the connection between the two freeways features a reversed orientation of Interstate 77's travel lanes so that northbound is to the west of southbound. This configuration allows for short connector ramps between Interstate 85 to Interstate 77 and vice versa.
As part of an $83-million HOV project for I-77 north to Interstate 485, two new overpasses were constructed here, including one for Exit 38 for Statesville. The new ramp shifted the merge point to join I-77 north beyond its loop ramp for I-85 south. Photo taken 06/22/05. Second photo taken 08/11/13.
Motorists partition from the Exit 38 off-ramp to Interstate 77 & U.S. 21 north and south. Interstate 77 leads south along the western periphery of downtown Charlotte over the next five miles. Statesville, where I-77 crosses I-40, is 83 miles to the north. Photo taken 08/11/13.
Drivers merge onto Interstate 85 north from Interstate 77 within the parclo interchange with Statesville Avenue south and Statesville Road north. The north-south road is the historic alignment of U.S. 21. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Graham Street (SR 2540) splits with U.S. 29 & NC 49 at the Lockwood neighborhood for a northeasterly course to Exit 40. The four-lane boulevard lines the Druid Hills and Sugar Creek industrial areas to a folded diamond interchange with Interstate 85. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Exit 40 departs Interstate 85 north at a Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass. Graham Street ends at Sugar Creek Road nearby in the Mineral Springs neighborhood. Sugar Creek Road south ties into the freeway at the next interchange (Exit 41). Photo taken 06/01/12.
Sugar Creek Road doubles as Charlotte City Route 4 north from Eastway Drive at Shannon Park northward between the Sugar Creek and Hidden Valley communities to Interstate 85 (Exit 41). Photo taken 06/01/12.
Northbound Interstate 85 at the Exit 41 diamond interchange with Sugar Creek Road. Sugar Creek Road winds north from I-85 to the Hemphill Heights neighborhood and other northern suburbs to NC 24 (W.T. Harris Boulevard). Photo taken 06/01/12.
Exit 42 provides a connection from Interstate 85 to U.S. 29 & North Carolina 49 (North Tryon Street). A portion of Interstate 85 was open to traffic by 1963 between U.S. 29 & 74 in east Gastonia and U.S. 29 & NC 49 east of Exit 42. Interstate 85 defaulted onto North Tyron Street at that time.. Photo taken 12/30/03.
Construction commencing in 2003 widened Interstate 85 to eight overall lanes through this stretch. The $87.7-million project expanded I-85 from Exit 42 northeast to Interstate 485 by February 2005. This included the redesign of the Exit 42 wye interchange to eliminate a left side on-ramp to I-85 south.4,5 Photo taken 06/01/12.
2 photos
2 photos
The U.S. 29 & North Carolina 49 connector (SR 2772) spurs east to North Tryon Street at Sandy Avenue. The four-lane highway originally met U.S. 29 & N.C. 49 at a wye interchange, with a second wye interchange nearby at the split between the two routes. Both interchanges were replaced with at-grade intersections in an effort to reduce weaving traffic patterns. This work took place as part of the U.S. 29/N.C. 49 Roadway Improvement Project between June 2010 and September 2012.6 Photo taken 12/30/03. Second photo taken 06/01/12.
Exit 42 leaves Interstate 85 north for North Tyron Street. U.S. 29 & NC 49 travel northeast from downtown to their split at University City Boulevard. North Carolina 49 continues east by UNC Charlotte to Harrisburg while U.S. 29 remains parallel to I-85 by UNC Charlotte to Concord. Photo taken 06/01/12.
University City Boulevard ties into Interstate 85 at a parclo interchange (Exit 43) west from the partition of U.S. 29 (North Tryon Street) and North Carolina 49. The arterial initially only traveled west from I-85 to Neal Road. An an extension east to U.S. 29 (Tryon Street) opened in 2009 as part of the $25.5-million U.S. 29/N.C. 49 Roadway Improvement Project.6
Ikea Boulevard bisects the University City retail area from McCullough Drive southward, with an extension to McFarlane Boulevard planned. Photo taken 06/01/12.
North Carolina 24 (W.T. Harris Boulevard) meets Interstate 85 at the following six-ramp parclo interchange (Exits 45A/B). Photo taken 06/01/12.
Centerline street lights and upcoming exit signs were added to Interstate 85 during the 2003-05 widening through northeast Charlotte. This sign displays the distances to the final three off-ramps in the Queen City. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Exit 45A carries drivers onto North Carolina 24 (Harris Boulevard) east to UNC-Charlotte and the Newell section of the city. Photo taken 06/01/12.
North Carolina 24 continues west along Harris Boulevard to University Research Park, Croft, and Interstate 77 (Exit 18), its western terminus. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Mallard Creek Church Road (SR 2472) crosses paths with Interstate 85 by University City North at Exits 46A/B in one mile. Photo taken 06/01/12.
A parclo interchange (Exit 46) facilitates the movements between Mallard Creek Church Road and Interstate 85 at the last Charlotte exit. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Mallard Creek Church Road travels south from Exit 46A to North Carolina 49 (University City Boulevard) east of UNC-Charlotte. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Northbound at the Exit 46A off-ramp to Mallard Creek Church Road south to U.S. 29 (N. Tryon Street) at the Mallard Creek Greenway. Photo taken 06/01/12.
Drivers depart Interstate 85 north for Exit 46B to Mallard Creek Church Road west. The arterial leads northwest to Mallard Creek Road at Prosperity Church Road within a crop of office parks.
Mainline I-85 motorists continue one mile to Interstate 485 (Exit 48). Photo taken 06/01/12.
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 485 begins at the Exit 48 trumpet interchange, an original exit to what was just a connector to U.S. 29 until 1999.
Work commenced in spring 2011 on the final 5.7-mile segment of I-485 west to NC 115. $139.5-million in construction to December 2014 focuses on building of the beltway west with new interchanges at Odell School and Prosperity Church Roads. Photo taken 06/22/05. Second photo taken 06/01/12.
Interstate 485 leads south through east Charlotte from near Harrisburg to Mint Hill and Matthews along the Union County line. Construction started in late summer 2011 focuses on the upgrade of Exit 48 into a "turbine" interchange. The $92.2-million project is slated for completion by June 2014. Photo taken 06/22/05.
Interstate 485 leads south through east Charlotte from near Harrisburg to Mint Hill and Matthews along the Union County line. Construction started in late summer 2011 focuses on the upgrade of Exit 48 into a "turbine" interchange. Previously slated for completion in June 2014,10 the last section of I-485 finally opened on June 5, 2015. Photo taken 06/01/12.
When Interstate 485 was signed along the stretch between Interstate 85 (Exit 48) and U.S. 29 in 1999, a reassurance sign for Interstate 85 was added in the refurbished trumpet interchange. This panel was moved further west during construction of the turbine interchange. Photo taken 06/22/05.
Interstate 85 reduced to six lanes at Interstate 485 and four overall lanes by Exit 49 (Bruton Smith Boulevard). That changed with the $138.7-million widening of 7.3 miles of freeway east from Exit 49 to just north of NC 73 (Davidson Highway). Work through June 2014 expands the freeway to eight lanes.7 Photo taken 06/22/05.
Concord Mills Boulevard south and Bruton Smith Boulevard north come together at a parclo interchange (Exit 49) in one quarter mile. Concord Mills Boulevard serves the adjacent Concord Mills Mall and the nearby Concord Regional Airport via Derita Road.
Speedway Boulevard was renamed officially on December 6, 2007 after billionaire owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway Bruton Smith. The two-mile stretch winds east to U.S. 29 (Concord Parkway) at the NASCAR track. The name change was made by the city of Concord and Cabarrus County as one of several efforts to appease Smith, who threatened to build a new track elsewhere at the time.8,9 Photo taken 05/30/05.
21.15 miles of Interstate 85 through Mecklenburg County conclude as the freewey enters Cabarrus County. Photo taken 06/01/12.

  1. "Growth taking off at Charlotte airport - Construction under way for several projects." Charlotte Observer, January 4, 2013.
  2. "Freedom Mall makeover driving west-side change." Charlotte Business Journal, May 7, 2007.
  3. "First Chunk of Wider I-85 Nearly Done." Charlotte Observer, September 29, 1993.
  4. "I-85 Work Enters Final Stages - Time and Moneydeadline, Rain Drive Extra Effort." Charlotte Observer, July 14, 2004.
  5. "Wweather Enables Progress on I-85 - University City Crews Paving Again after December Shutdown." Charlotte Observer, January 4, 2005.
  6. "Expect delays in N.C. 49's 'weave' area." Charlotte Observer, July 11, 2010.
  7. "Projects to ease I-85 traffic - N.C. DOT adding lanes, innovative interchanges, 'super streets' - Cabarrus." Charlotte Observer, January 20, 2013.
  8. "'We're Here Forever.' - Yes, Track Will Stay in Concord, a Smiling Smith Says." Charlotte Observer, November 27, 2007.
  9. "Bruton Will Get Street Name - State Oks Change Honoring Billionaire Owner of Speedway." Charlotte Observer, December 7, 2007.
  10. Charlotte Outer Loop. North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), project web site.

Photo Credits:

  • 10/05/01 by AARoads.
  • 12/30/03 by Carter Buchanan.
  • 05/30/05 by AARoads.
  • 06/22/05 by AARoads.
  • 12/06/08 by Jamie Dzencelowcz.
  • 12/13/08 by Carter Buchanan.
  • 12/30/08 by Carter Buchanan.
  • 06/01/12 by AARoads.
  • 08/11/13 by Carter Buchanan.

Connect with:
Interstate 77
Interstate 485 - Charlotte Beltway
Highway 16
U.S. 21

Page Updated 09-11-2013.