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Business 85

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Several years ago I was involved in a project to change the designation of Business Loop 85 (the "old" I-85) to Interstate 685. The rationale behind this was:

(1) the typical motorist has no idea what an "interstate business loop" is and therefore (2) might perceive a "business loop" as involving in-town driving with stop lights and at-grade intersections. (3) the typical motorist easily identifies with and is comfortable with the familiar tri-color interstate shield and, at least in theory, would (4) use the highway and this in turn would revitalize the corridor and (5) make it easier to access routes into downtown Spartanburg.

I thought then and continue to believe this proposal would be good for Spartanburg. The Business 85 corridor today is not dying but is not exactly thriving either. This despite the presence of several major companies and schools (Metromont, Milliken, Beverage Aire, Spartanburg Technical College, University of South Carolina Upstate, etc.).

This proposal was formally presented to SCDOT and SPATS. Both pretty much dismissed it. SCDOT was against it because they felt that the cost of upgrading the highway to "interstate standards" was prohibitive. SPATS dismissed it because they were afraid that another high profile and expensive project would compromise their already large list of highway projects that were awaiting funding.

Both SCDOT and SPATS were correct in that parts of the highway need updating. The I-585, SC-295, and SC-9 interchanges are obsolete and confusing. The I-585 interchange, in particular, needs high speed entrance and exit ramps. However, the rest of the freeway is in pretty good shape. The pavement, the signage, and the bridges will last many years.

The proposal was also presented to the Spartanburg City Council. Every councilman but one agreed that changing the designation to I-685 would be a good idea and passed a resolution supporting the change.

Strangely, I was never able to get the Spartanburg business community, including the local chamber of commerce, to support this proposal.

A little highway knowlege: there are only three interstate business loops in the US that are freeways. Business 80 in Sacramento, California, Business 40 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and, of course, Business 85 in Spartanburg. Most interstate business loops exit the interstate on one side of town, route themselves into a business district, and eventually reenter the interstate on the other side of town. By the way, I have heard that Business 40 in Winston-Salem may be redesignated I-274 in the near future.

I am looking for your input on this subject. Do you think this proposal still makes sense? Do you think that redesignating the highway I-685 will revitalize this corridor? Do you think that making this change will bring more interstate traffic and dollars to downtown Spartanburg? Finally, do you have any suggestions on how to get this proposal moving again?

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I 100% agree with that proposal.

However, I don't see the 85 corridor as dying so much as transitioning. We took the traffic and moved it a mile away to the new 85, so the market is being forced to adapt, thus creating the dilapidated look along 85 'business loop.'

I am not certain to what extent redisignating the interstate as I-685 would benifit the area though. It would be necessary to come up with proof that doing so would be beneficial to the businesses.

Industries just need the access, not the traffic, so they should not be hurting that much.

And even further than that, there havent been that many restaurants that have closed. Maybe some along Boiling Springs Rd. But Hearon Circle/Asheville Hwy was the main place for these establishments, and most are still there.

My point is that the impact has not been that great so far as I can tell.

So it would also be necessary to show how businesses have been hurt by the relocation, and how renaming it might encourage people to return to using the old 85.

People tend to see even numbered interstates as bypass loops (ie 285, 485), so it would sort of counter intuitive.

It would also be necessary to show what intersections need upgrading . IMO, all of them do. The ramps are entirely too short, and the whole road can be confusing with merging on and off becuase of all of the frontage roads that turn into on ramps.

I realize it may seem like I disagree after all of that, but I still do. I just think it will take research and proof to convince the chamber of commerce. It might not hurth to look into financing for the intersections in order to see how much it would cost and also how soon the upgrades would need to happen. Maybe talking to each one individually could help.

Who's approval is needed for it to happen? Just SCDOT and the County?

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I heard that when they were planning the New I-85 they were originally going to build it through Hillcrest/Eastside, the Southside (near the edge of downtown or in downtown?), through Cedar Springs/Croft area, Roebuck, through the Westside, and back to where I-85 and Hwy 29 meet in Wellford. The eastside and southside would have sure seen some build-up. I understand that the Hillcrest Mall would still be open today if this were true (or the southside would have opened one up).

Also, I understand that Milliken was originally going to be other land on the Northside of Spartanburg used for developing stores, restaurants, offices, etc. (possibly a mall). Can anyone confirm and/or explain all of this?

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I believe that was a proposed loop of some sort. That would not be a logical place to relocate 85. I'm glad that did not happen.

I have not heard that about Milliken, but don't take that as then end all for that issue.

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I think there was a similar idea some years ago that would create a southern "parkway" below 85 from 385/185 to Cowpens. With much of the western end built up now around the Golden Strip, that idea is surely not worth it.

Fortunately, there is the idea of Spartanburg County's southeastern connector from 85 (Cowpens) to 26 (Woodruff), which would be a welcome boost. I do not know of any recent progressions.

Is the Business 85/585 interchange currently undergoing a full realignment?

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The highway from Woodruff to Cowpens was ressurected recently by the Mayor of Pacolet. This may have been 3 months ago. I haven't heard anything lately. Perhaps they are doing impact studys etc?

Basicly all of 585 and its interchanges interchanges are getting upgrades to meet current highway standards. The 221 and Hwy 9 intersections are being realigned and the 585/Bus85 overpass is being upgraded along with the interchange/entrance to USCS.

They are also extending 585 out to the new 85.

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The highway from Woodruff to Cowpens was ressurected recently by the Mayor of Pacolet. This may have been 3 months ago. I haven't heard anything lately. Perhaps they are doing impact studys etc?

Basicly all of 585 and its interchanges interchanges are getting upgrades to meet current highway standards. The 221 and Hwy 9 intersections are being realigned and the 585/Bus85 overpass is being upgraded along with the interchange/entrance to USCS.

They are also extending 585 out to the new 85.

The I-585 site on the SCDOT website does not mention any immediate plans to upgrade the I-585 / I-85 interchange. However, the long range plan for this connection is to upgrade the interchange with a series of collector / distributor ramps.

You're right, Spartan, all I-585 interchanges (Business 85, US-221 / SC-9) are being upgraded to interstate standards. Many years ago when I was a small child I was involved in a minor automobile accident on I-585 northbound between the SC-9 entrance ramp and and the US-221 entrance ramp. This area was dangerous and obsolete then.

My hope is for I-585 to be six laned from Business 85 to it's termination point at Wood Street. I also would like to see the hideous and potentially dangerous California Avenue overpass replaced.

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The locals seem to understand the logic of "green" interstates but not all regional travelers do which brings up the "what do i do"/"where to U turn" when you just simply continue on the green interstate back to the mainline. "Green" interstates to the general public create confusion and can range from a boulevard, expressway, and/or substandard freeway. Green 85 through High Point needs to die by letting it just be US 29/70 through the area. For two reasons: 1) theres already a green 85 through Death Valley and that used to be the mainline 85 for a long time and 2) by going from green interstate (from Greensboro[death valley hwy stretch{40,85,29,421,220,70}]) to blue interstate for a few miles then back to green interstate (towards High Point) will really confuse people on how one looks like a urban substandard freeway then the other looks like an arterial with traffic lights at the beginning but then an expressway towards Lexington. By removing the green interstate status through High Point but keeping it through Greensboro, would make more sense, at least the freeway continuity of both green and blue interstates. If it was up to me, they should be all gone period by them being replaced with a 3 dimensional interstate/US/State Highway status instead.

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The locals seem to understand the logic of "green" interstates but not all regional travelers do which brings up the "what do i do"/"where to U turn" when you just simply continue on the green interstate back to the mainline. "Green" interstates to the general public create confusion and can range from a boulevard, expressway, and/or substandard freeway. Green 85 through High Point needs to die by letting it just be US 29/70 through the area. For two reasons: 1) theres already a green 85 through Death Valley and that used to be the mainline 85 for a long time and 2) by going from green interstate (from Greensboro[death valley hwy stretch{40,85,29,421,220,70}]) to blue interstate for a few miles then back to green interstate (towards High Point) will really confuse people on how one looks like a urban substandard freeway then the other looks like an arterial with traffic lights at the beginning but then an expressway towards Lexington. By removing the green interstate status through High Point but keeping it through Greensboro, would make more sense, at least the freeway continuity of both green and blue interstates. If it was up to me, they should be all gone period by them being replaced with a 3 dimensional interstate/US/State Highway status instead.

I agree with you. "Green" 85 from Lexington to High Point isn't necessary.

The highway is already signed US-29 / 70.

Do you remember when Green 85 in that area was once signed "Temporary 85?" .

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I agree with you. "Green" 85 from Lexington to High Point isn't necessary.

The highway is already signed US-29 / 70.

Do you remember when Green 85 in that area was once signed "Temporary 85?" .

Sure do. I was too little to help my parents out which i remember little of (the only way i remember that was when they told me a story about getting lost towards Lexington or something). I did get my first oppurtunity at age 8 telling them how to get out of Washington, DC when they took I-395 into the district by accident instead of continuing on I-95 north. I told them to just take NY Ave (US 50 east to I-95) while i was reading the map ahead of time before I-395 ended while we were stuck in the tunnel. Ever since then, my credibility has been high with giving travel advice to the family. :D

To go back on topic (somewhat) briefly:

What is the I-85 plan through SC? In terms of how many lanes, speed limit continuity, other miscellanious improvements worth noting? As ive read about Green 85 already, is the freeway substandard because i have never been on it before. Is it like death valley through Greensboro?

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Sure do. I was too little to help my parents out which i remember little of (the only way i remember that was when they told me a story about getting lost towards Lexington or something). I did get my first oppurtunity at age 8 telling them how to get out of Washington, DC when they took I-395 into the district by accident instead of continuing on I-95 north. I told them to just take NY Ave (US 50 east to I-95) while i was reading the map ahead of time before I-395 ended while we were stuck in the tunnel. Ever since then, my credibility has been high with giving travel advice to the family. :D

To go back on topic (somewhat) briefly:

What is the I-85 plan through SC? In terms of how many lanes, speed limit continuity, other miscellanious improvements worth noting? As ive read about Green 85 already, is the freeway substandard because i have never been on it before. Is it like death valley through Greensboro?

Business 85 in Spartanburg is nothing like "Death Valley" in Greensboro. When the new 85 opened back in 1995 it pretty much sucked most of the traffic off the road. Nevertheless, SCDOT did repave it and update the signage. Our initiative back in 2000 did result in SCDOT adding the words "FREEWAY LOOP" to the northbound and southbound entrances to the highway. The theory being that the word freeway might encourage more motorists to use it. I sense that traffic has increased on Business 85 since 2000 but whether this change has had anything to do with that is impossible to quantify.

I-85 through upstate SC is a nightmare. I dread driving on it. The worst section, in my opinion, is between mile marker 80 and the NC state line at Grover. This section is four lanes and hasn't changed much from it's late 50's era design.

From exit 19 in Anderson County to exit 80 in Spartanburg County I-85 is mostly six lanes. The problem is it has become the main commuter route for drivers traveling between Greenville and Spartanburg. Take away the commuters and traffic would still be bad but the commuters are getting on and off and that in itself causes problems.

SCDOT's solution to I-85? They're "studying" it.

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The I-585 site on the SCDOT website does not mention any immediate plans to upgrade the I-585 / I-85 interchange. However, the long range plan for this connection is to upgrade the interchange with a series of collector / distributor ramps.

You're right, Spartan, all I-585 interchanges (Business 85, US-221 / SC-9) are being upgraded to interstate standards. Many years ago when I was a small child I was involved in a minor automobile accident on I-585 northbound between the SC-9 entrance ramp and and the US-221 entrance ramp. This area was dangerous and obsolete then.

My hope is for I-585 to be six laned from Business 85 to it's termination point at Wood Street. I also would like to see the hideous and potentially dangerous California Avenue overpass replaced.

I know its not goin gto be 'connected' to the new 85 under the current plan, but I'm certain they will connect it eventually.

Where will the collector/distributor ramps go?

I have heard rumors of a plan to extend 585 towards Boiling Springs to help alleviate traffic on Hwy 9.

I think that 585 should be completely limited access until its official terminus. They should build a bridge over McCracey/Pearl then connect back down a Wood St. Doing so would help ease the congestion at that intersection and make 585 an actual interstate to its terminus. That is likely wishful thinking on my part though.

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I know its not goin gto be 'connected' to the new 85 under the current plan, but I'm certain they will connect it eventually.

Where will the collector/distributor ramps go?

I have heard rumors of a plan to extend 585 towards Boiling Springs to help alleviate traffic on Hwy 9.

I think that 585 should be completely limited access until its official terminus. They should build a bridge over McCracey/Pearl then connect back down a Wood St. Doing so would help ease the congestion at that intersection and make 585 an actual interstate to its terminus. That is likely wishful thinking on my part though.

I wishfully think the same thing about I-585. I would love to see the freeway portion continue south to at least Daniel Morgan but It probably won't happen in my lifetime.

I haven't heard anything about 585 being extended but as more people move northward toward Lake Bowen I wouldn't be surprised to see a more concrete proposal. I would prefer to see the entire 585 corridor improved before spending money on an extension.

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The problem with extending it to Daniel morgan is that there are alot of roads that intersect with N Pine- Wood, Pearl/McCravey, Garner Rd (which goes to Wofford's stadium), Isom St and that other one that goes up to the auditorium. These roads will have to be dealt with in some fasion, and that is why I would be more in favor of it ending at Wood St as you previously mentioned. Its a logcial place to me.

I will say that haveing the terminus closer to downtown does have some advantages... Greenville and Columbia have proven that.

Part of the problem may be that the road was never there to begin with. Non-locals may not know that N Pine was pretty much an afterthought. Pine St used to end at Main St. and the area where N Pine is today was just a big ditch/landfill. When they bulit N Pine they had to move Chinquapin Creek, which now looks like a drainage ditch. Which reminds me that this is something else they will have to work around if they decided to upgrade that streatch to an interstate.

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What kind of interchange will Business 85/585 be once completed?

Speaking on reconfiguring the 85/585 interchange (Exit 72) in a few years, would the collector/distribute ramps be similar to Exits 46 and 51 or Exits 42 and 70 for the 85/585 reconfiguration?

If 585 is extended towards Boiling Springs, is it feasibly possible to extend it to Chesnee? US 221 will eventually be widened to four lanes through Chesnee and northward into North Carolina.

(Link: Highway delay may help S.C. catch up [The Forest City, NC Daily Courier; 08/12/2005] )

Interstate 85 through South Carolina will be six lanes all the way to both Georgia and North Carolina state lines. I would like to see the speed limit uped to 70 from the Georgia state line to Exit 34, 65 from Exit 34 to Exit 69, and 70 eastward of Gaffney.

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I am not familiar with those specific exits you speak of. What roads are those?

I think that 585 & Bus85 will just be a standard interchange. Nothing special.

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Exit 42: I-185

Exit 46: Augusta Rd/S Pleasantburg Dr (SC 291)/Mauldin Rd

Exit 51: Woodruff Rd (SC 146)/I-385

Exit 70: I-26

Exit 72: US 176

Exits 42 and 70 are similar. Traffic exits off 85 before approaching a Y. Traffic goes one way and other another way. The overpassing/underpassing road has a loop on ramp to 85.

Exits 46 and 51 are collect/distribute exits. Carrying traffic off the through route, traffic is distributed and collected thorugh a series on off and on ramps. The c/d lane merges back with the through route with on traffic.

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