A view of the collapsed I-85 highway bridge. (Photo courtesy of Web Radio)

Fire collapses I-85 highway bridge outside Atlanta

March 31, 2017
Georgia governor declares state of emergency as major highway artery is closed in both directions.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the Fulton County area following a major fire and subsequent bridge collapse along Interstate 85 outside the city of Atlanta. 

“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety and minimize disruption of traffic as we continue emergency response efforts,” Deal said in statement after releasing an executive order closing portions of I-85.

“The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is coordinating response efforts with the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and other state and local officials,” he added.

Due to what Deal called the “destructive force of the fire,” an “elevated section” of I-85’s northbound lanes collapsed, rendering an entire segment of I-85 northbound impassable.

GDOT's late night press conference regarding the I-85 bridge collapse.

The fire also affected portions of I-85 southbound so that’s been closed as well, the governor noted.

Russell McMurry, GDOT’s Commissioner, noted in a statement that his organization along with other state and local transit agencies are establishing alternate routes and detours for motorists and commercial truck traffic, as well as other options for commuters, including the use of Xpress Bus Service and Peach Pass express lanes.

“Our primary concern right now helping people reach their destinations,” he said, highlighting these details:

  • I-85 is closed from I-75/Brookwood split to the North Druid Hills Exit
  • Motorists traveling northbound on I-85 from the southside of Atlanta will be diverted to northbound I-75 at Brookwood near 17th Street
  • Motorists traveling southbound on I-85 north of Atlanta will be diverted to northbound on SR400
  • Motorists traveling southbound on SR400 from north of Atlanta will be diverted at Sidney Marcus exit
  • I-285 and I-20 are both open to traffic and are the best alternatives for motorists to utilize if possible.

“Make no mistake; this incident will have a major impact on travel. I would ask the people of this city and this state to plan their travel as best possible,” McMurry stressed. “At this point, I don’t have the ability to tell you how long it will take to restore I-85. Repair to this essential interstate is a top priority and we will be doing everything within our power to expedite the rebuilding process.”

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