Interstate 85 South - Durham & Orange Counties

Home » Guides » North Carolina » Interstate 85 South - Durham & Orange Counties

Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south
Durham is just nine miles south of the Neuse River via Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south. Chapel Hill, 22 miles away, is the destination of U.S. 15 beyond its split with I-85 at Exit 174A. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Redwood Road (SR 1637) sees a folded-cloverleaf interchange (Exit 183) with Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 southwest of Falls Lake by Lake Ridge Aero Park. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 183 leaves Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south for Redwood Road (SR 1637). Redwood Road forms a rural loop northeast from Fletcherss Chapel Road (SR 1815) at Glen Forest to Redwood and northwest to I-85 and Tom Clark Road. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 and U.S. 15 share 11.7 miles of pavement from Butner southwest to west Durham. A 12.6-mile stretch of I-85, from Exit 191 southwest to Exit 178, was resurfaced between June 1, 2011 and July 15, 2012 at a cost of $8 million.1 Photo taken 07/09/10.
Meeting the pair next is Red Mill Road (SR 1632), a north south road between Geer Street (old U.S. 15) and Tenika Parkway (SR 1794). Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 182 leaves Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south for Red Mill Road. Parallel Geer Street, the former alignment of U.S. 15, runs southwest from SR 1632 to Burton and Gorman. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Drivers continue south one mile to the Exit 180 diamond interchange with Glenn School Road (SR 1675). Photo taken 07/09/10.
Glenn School Road (SR 1675) connects I-85 & U.S. 15 with Glenn Road (SR 1636) to the north and Geer Street (SR 1670) at Junction Road to the south. Big box retail occupies land to the south, adding traffic to this somewhat rural exit. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Southbound Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 at the Exit 180 ramp departure for Glenn School Road. Junction Road continues SR 1670 south from Geer Street (old U.S. 15) to Cheek Road (SR 1800) on the east side of Durham. Photo taken 07/09/10.
The stretch of Interstate 85 leading into Durham was built as a new alignment of U.S. 15 between 1955 and 1957. The high frequency of interchanges is a result of those early expressway standards. Photo taken 07/09/10.
East Club Boulevard (SR 1671) extends Ferrell Road west from Geer Street to a diamond interchange (Exit 179) with Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 in one quarter mile. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Club Boulevard arcs west from Exit 179 into the Durham city limits by a nearby landfill. The boulevard continues west to the Colonial Heights and Northgate Park neighborhoods before crossing paths with Interstate 85 again near Exit 176. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Next in line for southbound drivers along Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 is a tri-level stack interchange (Exit 178) with U.S. 70 east. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Approaching the Durham city line and Exit 178 along Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south. U.S. 70 lines an eastern freeway bypass of Durham to Miami Boulevard at East End Avenue. Presently the surface route of U.S. 70 southeast from there is the most direct route to Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU). The East End Connector will directly connect U.S. 70 with North Carolina 147 (Durham Freeway) when its completed. Photo taken 07/09/10.
One half mile out from the Exit 178 ramp to U.S. 70 east. The $182-million East End Connector (future I-885) should break ground in September 2014. Upon completion, it will provide a freeway to freeway link between U.S. 70 and North Carolina 147 south to Research Triangle Park and Interstate 40 east to Raleigh. Collectively the new route will be designated Interstate 885. U.S. 70 travels to both I-540 by RDU Airport and Raleigh, but as a surface boulevard. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 178 was reconstructed as part of a $210-million widening project along Interstate 85 west to U.S. 15-501 south. This included constructing new flyovers between I-85 and U.S. 70, which added eastbound access to U.S. 70 from I-85 south. All freeway lanes were opened to traffic in September 2006,2 but work involving side roads, ramps and landscaping continued to a ribbon cutting ceremony held on February 12, 2008.6 Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south expand to six overall lanes through Exit 178. U.S. 70 joins the freeway west to Exit 170.
A business loop for U.S. 70 follows Miami Boulevard and Holloway Street west from the U.S. 70 freeway to downtown. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Passing through the stack interchange with U.S. 70 east. The original interchange here consisted of a wye with a left side merge of U.S. 70 west onto I-85 & U.S. 15 south. Photo taken 07/09/10.
The $210-million widening of Interstate 85 between 1999 and February 12, 2008 included three separate projects. Construction involved improvements to the U.S. 70 interchange and separate widening and interchange upgrades of I-85 from U.S. 70 west to Broad Street and between Broad Street and U.S. 15 & 501.3,6 Forthcoming Exit 177, erroneously signed here as Exits 177B/A from when separate ramps served both Avondale Drive and Roxboro Street, was converted into a split-diamond interchange for both North Carolina 55 and U.S. 15 & 501 Business. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 & U.S. 15 south and U.S. 70 west
Interstate 85 and company swells to ten overall lanes between Exits 178 and 177. U.S. 15 Business begins ahead, joining U.S. 501 Business south along Roxboro Street through Duke Park, Old North Durham and Downtown. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 177 departs the westbound freeway. U.S. 501 Business (Roxboro Street) bisects the Northgate Park and Colonial Village neighborhoods to Stadium Heights and U.S. 501 (Duke Street). North Carolina 55 (Avondale Drive) concludes a 193-mile route at Roxboro Street just north of I-85. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Traffic partitions from Exit 177 onto Avondale Drive north to U.S. 501 Business north, NC 55 south through Duke Park to Alston Avenue, and Roxboro Street south to the Durham central business district. North Carolina 55 migrates southward through the Albright and Edgemont neighborhoods of Durham to Cary, Apex and ultimately Oriental off Pamlico Sound. Photo taken 07/09/10.
A short distance to the west is the three-quarter cloverleaf interchange (Exit 176) with U.S. 501 (Duke Street) north and Gregson Street (SR 1327) at Northgate Mall. Photo taken 07/09/10.
U.S. 501 leads north from Exit 176 along Duke Street to Durham County Stadium and the Stadium Heights neighborhood. The US route links Durham with Roxboro to the north as part of a 371-mile course between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Buena Vista, Virginia.
Gregson Street (SR 1327) and Duke Streets (SR 1445) form a one-way couplet southward from Northgate Mall through Trinity Park, the Warehouse District and Downtown. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 & U.S. 15-501 south and U.S. 70 west
U.S. 501 joins the fold as Interstate 85 south nears the Exit 175 diamond interchange with North Carolina 157 north and Guess Road (SR 1332) south. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 175 departs Interstate 85 and U.S. 15-70-501 west for Guess Road and NC 157 north. Guess Road leads southeast through the Watts Hospital-Hillandale and Walltown neighborhoods to Club Boulevard at Northgate Mall. North Carolina 157 overtakes the roadway north by the Scardale Village and Omah Street communities. The 29.3-mile route provides an alternate route to U.S. 501 between Durham and Roxboro. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 expands to 12 overall lanes between Guess Road and the Exit 174B diamond interchange with Hillandale Road (SR 1321). Photo taken 07/09/10.
Two lanes depart Interstate 85 & U.S. 15-70-501 for Hillandale Road south to Watts Hospital-Hillandale and north to Omah Street. The right lane follows in one half mile for Exit 174A, U.S. 15 & 501 south. The US highway pair follow a freeway south with nearby interchanges at U.S. 70 Business (Hillsborough Road) and North Carolina 147 (Durham Freeway). Photo taken 07/09/10.
U.S. 15 & 501 follow a freeway south by Duke University to Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard (U.S. 15-501 Business). Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard varies between a four and six lane commercial arterial from the freeway end into Chapel Hill.
U.S. 15 & 501 share 106.8 miles together from Exit 176 of I-85 to Laurinburg at Interstate 74 and U.S. 74-401. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 south & U.S. 70 west
A diamond interchange (Exit 173) quickly follows the wye interchange with U.S. 15 & 501 south for Cole Mill Road (SR 1401). Cole Mill Road ventures north from a commercial area with U.S. 70 Business (Hillsborough Road) to the Croasdaile and Waterford neighborhoods and an end at Eno River State Park. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 & U.S. 70 next merge with the north end of the Durham Freeway (NC 147) at a wye interchange. There is no direct access to NC 147 from I-85 north, instead U.S. 15 & 501 provide access back toward Duke University and downtown Durham. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Two lanes merge onto Interstate 85 north & U.S. 70 west from the ending North Carolina 147. Construction on NC 147 commenced in 1968 with the first segment opened to traffic between Alston Avenue (NC 55) and Chapel Hill Street (SR 1127) in 1970. 1970s extensions followed west to Erwin Road (SR 1320) and east to Interstate 40 through RTP.
Road planning techniques in the 1960s would not be used in 1982 to develop the corridor northwest through the Crest Street neighborhood to Interstate 85. Instead of relocating residents and demolishing residences, houses, 181 of them, were relocated to new foundations in the area allowing residents to stay in the Crest Street community. This allowed work to proceed without the freeway ruining the area community. The Durham Freeway was completed to Interstate 85 on July 31, 1998.4,5 Photo taken 07/09/10.
Forest land replaces suburbia as Interstate 85 south & U.S. 70 west exit the city of Durham for Orange County. The tandem continue west 29 miles to Burlington, but on separate routes. Greensboro lies 49 miles ahead via Interstate 40 west. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Trailblazers are used in lieu of conventional guide signs for the U.S. 70 westbound split with Interstate 85 south at Exit 170. U.S. 70 overtakes its original alignment from the ending U.S. 70 Business to Piney Grove, where the route partitions with the Hillsborough business loop. Photo taken 07/09/10.
An Exit 170 tab is all that remains of the guide sign for U.S. 70 west to Hillsborough. The route bypasses the city, providing a faster route to North Carolina 86 north to Yanceyville and Danville, Virginia (via Virginia 86). Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 South
North Carolina 86 meets Interstate 85 directly at the Exit 165 diamond interchange in one mile. A truck route for the state route follows I-85 north to Exit 161 (SR 1239). Photo taken 07/09/10.
Exit 165 leaves Interstate 85 north for North Carolina 86. NC 86 combines with U.S. 70 Business to Churton Street through the Hillsborough town center. Southward, the state highway travels 12.3 miles to end at U.S. 15-501 & NC 54 in Chapel Hill. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Churton Street (SR 1009) angles southwest from U.S. 70 Business & NC 86 to meet Interstate 85 at a diamond interchange (Exit 164). A number of traveler services and other retail line the roadway to the north. Southward Old NC 86 continues 1.5 miles to Interstate 40 (Exit 261) and 9.2 miles to Calvander on the outskirts of Carrboro. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Occoneechee Mountain rises just north of Interstate 85 on the one-mile approach to Exit 163 with Interstate 40 east. Photo taken 07/09/10.
Interstate 85 merges with Interstate 40 west for 30.9 miles to Burlington and Greensboro. Interstate 40 enters the overlap from Chapel Hill, south Durham, Cary and Raleigh. Photo taken 07/09/10.
A modified trumpet interchange (Exit 163) joins Interstates 85 and 40 outside Hillsborough. Interstate 40 curves southeast from I-85 for its final 162 miles to Wilmington. Photo taken 07/09/10.



  1. "Work to begin on 12.6-mile stretch of I-85." The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), May 14, 2011.
  2. "THE END OF THE ROAD - I-85 project set to be complete within 2 weeks." The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), September 7, 2006.
  3. "ROADWORK COMING TO END - Traffic relief in sight as I- 85 widening winds down." The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), January 30, 2006.
  4. "30-year, 12-mile project completed." The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), July 26, 1998.
  5. "Durham Freeway's last leg opens." The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), August 1, 1998.
  6. "Overbudgeted I-85 Project Officially Opens." WRAL. February 12, 2008.

Photo Credits:

07/09/10 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 40

Page Updated 09-13-2013.