Last night I was shocked to see what happened on a section of elevated I-85 northeast of downtown Atlanta.  Once we were all thrilled than no one was hurt or injured it was time to think about how bad this is for Atlanta and the region.

There will be investigation as to why flamable materials and PVC material ws under the bridge.  There will be much investigation into the stability of the nearby segments of bridge in both directions then there will be a reconstruction plan.  It will take months.

In the near-term, GDOT will lay out recomendations.  Here are some of mine:

  1.  Every freeway route going toward Atlanta should alert drivers on I-85 or seeking to use I-85 to leave Atlanta to use I-285.  This should also be recommended to DOTs in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina as well.  Some large detours may want to be coordinated in those states for through traffic.  DMS signs should be used for this as well as 511 in FL, TN and SC. (Alabama does not have 511)
  2. The DOT will not recommend any specific local street as a detour and none are likely very good anyway except for near your departure or destination location.  For example access to Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont Roads will need a new route in many cases.
  3. The ramps disallowing entry to I-85 should be restored with signs indicating tnat access is only allowed to access to GA 400 northbound.  Since access from GA 400 to NB 85 is allowed, the return trip should also be allowed.  There may be a reason to temporarily keep the barracades for recovery equipment to enter the scene.
  4. There is absolutely no evdidence of terrorist activity but it one would have tried to attack Atlanta this would have been high on the list as a potential disruption.
  5. Ultimately what we will see is I-285 and I-75 north of the city will have congestion increased.  I-285 on the northend will see the worst.  GA 400 and I-85 in the Brookhaven/Chamblee/Doraville area will for now become a loop route to facilitate local traffic only.  I-20 should be discouraged as an alternate route to keep traffic out of downtown
  6. MARTA has already said they will increase service and that is great.  train and Bus service I presume.
  7. Although I am a Civil Engineer which implies I think new roads and lanes are the answer.  I actually think that more using transit, companies encouraging telework (partial or complete) and staggering schedules is the better answer.  If you can reduce the demand that is always better than trying to increase capacity – which is an ever changing dangling carrot.
  8. Lastly  – Former candidate for GA governor Oxendine’s proposal for a tunnel connecting GA 400 and I-675 is not looking quite as crazy right now.  Although I suppose that is just more food for Bugs Bunny 🙂

Please comment on my Twitter page @Gilltrans