Deal: I-85 corridor to reopen by May 15

May 10, 2017

Gov. Nathan Deal, along with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry and State Transportation Board Chairman Robert L. Brown Jr., today announced the reopening of I-85, six weeks after a March 30 fire and bridge collapse closed the corridor. The northbound and southbound lanes of the I-85 bridge over Piedmont Road in Metro Atlanta are projected to open to traffic by morning rush hour on May 15. The new opening date is nearly two weeks earlier than GDOT’s most recent commitment of Memorial Day weekend, and five weeks ahead of the original projected opening date of June 15. 

“While this situation has been a tremendous challenge, the response from the people of Georgia has been nothing less than remarkable,” said Deal. “It is extraordinary that in just six weeks, this critical piece of infrastructure is nearly ready to reopen for motorist use following the fire and bridge collapse. I am grateful to President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for providing the financial assistance necessary to complete the bridge on an expedited timeframe. I'd also like to thank Commissioner Russell McMurry for his leadership throughout this project, as well as the leadership of MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority for leading the charge in providing alternative commute options. Most importantly, I thank the motoring public for their patience and the Atlanta business community for its flexibility. In Georgia, we get things done, and we have risen to the occasion for I-85 to be completed as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

This high-traffic section of I-85 carries nearly 243,000 vehicles each day under normal circumstances. GDOT has worked around the clock to rebuild sections of roadway in both directions and to reopen the corridor quickly and safely. GDOT estimates approximately $27 million in motorist savings by opening I-85 weeks ahead of original projections.

“We knew that the closure of the corridor would have a major impact on local and regional travel. We have been laser-focused not only on rapid construction, but also on safety and efficiency,” said McMurry. “Six weeks is an amazingly short timeframe to complete this project. At the same time, it is probably the most inspected, most scrutinized construction project Georgia DOT has ever undertaken, with our inspectors working on site around the clock. We did our due diligence each day and every step of the way.”

To date, GDOT has logged more than 3,500 man hours of on-site inspections, with as many as eight inspectors on-site at a time. Inspections include examining the fabricated steel beams off-site and inspecting them again for size and spacing on-site. Inspectors also sampled and tested the concrete before it was poured. 

The latest updates on the reopening of I-85 can be found at www.I85rebuild.org or www.dot.ga.gov.

A video of today’s announcement is available here