#TBT: Opening of I-285, 1969

On Oct. 15, 1969, Atlanta officially got its perimeter, and the rest is history. Slow, painful, gridlocked history.

Interstate 285 opened for business that day, and the image above shows Gov. Lester Maddox at the podium presiding over the ceremony. It was the official opening of the 64-mile highway that has circled the city for the past 46-and-a-half years.

According to Interstate-Guide.com, the original intent of the loop was to allow traffic to bypass the city, but quickly filled up with commuters looking to navigate for work and other reasons. It has become one of the busiest highways in America, and the deadliest, according to Vox.

(More #TBT: Underground Atlanta advertisements, 1970)

There were once plans to build another loop outside I-285 to take away some of the traffic once the roadway became busier than originally anticipated, Interstate-Guide.com also said. That loop would have been 20 to 25 miles outside I-285, and a complete circle would have been 211 miles.

A lack of funding nixed that idea, and despite attempts to revive parts of the outer-outer loop in the 1990s, the project never got approved. If you think the sprawl is bad now – and it is – imagine what would have happened with another outer loop.

Another image from the ceremony is below, showing Gov. Maddox riding on the hood of a car through a paper wall to officially open the highway. He looks about as thrilled as every driver when they’re about to get on I-285, if you ask me.

I-285 Opening

Images via Georgia Department of Transportation; hat tip to Atlanta Time Machine

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