Interstate 85

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SR 637 at I-85 - Brunswick County, VA

Passing over the northbound roadway of Interstate 85 along SR 637 (Old Indian Road) in western Brunswick County. 06/01/12

The northernmost extent of Interstate 85 parallels U.S. 1 from Bracey and South Hill along a rural course to Petersburg in southern Virginia. I-85 combines with U.S. 460 east from West Petersburg to Interstate 95 south of Downtown Petersburg. This stretch was the southernmost section of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike.

Interstate 85 Virginia Guides

The interchange between Interstate 85 and Squirrel Level Road, planned since the mid-1970s5, was approved for construction starting in late 1986 at a cost of $4.7 million on September 19, 1985.1 Work started in Spring 1987 and the exit opened on December 1, 1988.5

Tolls (20 cents per passenger vehicle) at the Dinwiddie Toll Plaza along Interstate 85 in Petersburg were discontinued on September 15, 1986. The 1958 plaza was dismantled by December 1, 1986 as part of an agreement for the use of federal funds for the Squirrel Level Road interchange. Tolls on the remainder of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike were slated to continue until 1990, when Interstate 295 was forecast for completion between the two cities.2 Construction delays pushed back the opening of all I-295 around Petersburg to June 25, 1992, and the subsequent removal of tolls along the Turnpike until July 1, 1992.7

When tolls came down on the Interstate 85 section of the turnpike, the stretch of the road was officially included in the Interstate Highway System. Laws at the time prohibited tolls from being applied on Interstate highways.3

U.S. 460 was rerouted from city streets through Downtown Petersburg onto an overlap with I-85 and I-95 after a Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors endorsement of a proposal in 1987 to move the route onto the freeways. The realignment was possible due to the removal of tolls along I-85 west of Petersburg and was sought to compliment the straight shot that U.S. 460 takes east of Petersburg to Hampton Roads and west to Blackstone. This led to the creation of U.S. 460 Business through the city.4

Speed limits along a 62 mile long stretch of Interstate 85, between the N.C. state line and just south of Petersburg, were increased to 65 miles per hour (mph) on July 1, 1988, ending a 14 year mandated 55 mph limit. Before the Congress mandated cut, Virginia's maximum speed limit was 70 mph.6 Limits along Interstate 85 south of Petersburg were restored to 70 mph in 2007.8

Interstate 85 scenes
SR 644 (Brunswick Drive) connects Interstate 85 with U.S. 1 at Meredithville in rural Brunswick County. 06/01/12
I-85 heads 43 miles north from the diamond interchange with SR 644 (Brunswick Drive) to I-95 in Petersburg. 06/01/12

  1. "Petersburg I-85 Interchange gets Commission's OK." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), September 20, 1985.
  2. "Milestone Ahead." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), June 7, 1986.
  3. "Last Toll Collected - Dinwiddie Not Sad." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), September 16, 1986.
  4. "Dinwiddie Backs U.S. 460 Rerouting." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), October 8, 1987.
  5. "Petersburg Interchange Opened." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), December 2, 1988.
  6. "Today's Speeder May be Legal July 1." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), June 20, 1988.
  7. "State Opens Last Portion of I-295." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), June 26, 1992.
  8. "Speed limit on rural Va. interstates increasing to 70 mph." Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), October 21, 2010.

Photo Credits:

06/01/12 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 95
U.S. 1
U.S. 58
U.S. 460
U.S. 460 Business - Petersburg
State Route 36

Page Updated 02-20-2023.

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