• Happy birthday, I-285! Atlanta's famous interstate turns 50


    ATLANTA - It's now been 50 years since getting around Atlanta changed forever.

    Interstate 285 now moves 2 million people a day around the city.

    The interstate initially started off with two lanes in each direction. By the time Atlanta hosted the Olympics, it widened to five lanes.

    On Oct. 15, 1969, I-285 officially opened to drivers.

    [FLASHBACK PHOTOS: I-285 turns 50 years old]

    Tom Moreland spent more than 30 years with Georgia Department of Transportation. He said 285 was an innovative concept and something that was badly needed.

    "All our highways are important but this one serves a unique purpose of the collector/distributor for the other interstates and also a great service to local traffic," Moreland said.

    When $175,000 flew out the doors of an armored truck back in July, I-285 drivers risked life, limb and arrest to engage in a cash grab that made national headlines. Few who took advantage of the ‘Perimeter Payoff' returned any money to police. The total returned currently stands at a meager $6,201.


    The late Braves pitcher Pascual Perez made I-285 a fashion statement in August 1982 when the interstate's moniker showed up on his warm-up jacket after Perez drove the full circumference of the Perimeter (62.9 miles) three times, looking for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. 

    He missed his start.

    What's ahead for I-285?

    GDOT uses data to plan 20-years ahead, keeping growth patterns in mind. But it's not an exact science.

    "Often we have to be reactionary, as well as making improvements, such as we plan to do very soon and make some improvements in and around 285 while we get ready for express lanes to come on in about five years by the time construction actually starts," said GDOT commissioner Russell McMurry. 

    GDOT is using what it's learned from express lanes on 75 and 85.

    "What we've seen is that people that choose to use express lanes save 30-45 minutes a trip," McMurry said. 

    Officials are hoping for the same success on I-285.

    "The people that are staying in the normal lanes are enjoying traffic about 10 or 15 miles an hour faster, and we've seen the time of congestion shrink by about an hour," McMurry said.

    Before the express lanes on I-285, there will be interchange improvements and bridge replacements.

    Crews will also continue to expand I-85 north and east into Jackson County to help deal with the heavy volume of freight transport.    

    Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report

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