Deal praises reconstruction efforts at I-85 ceremony

May 18, 2017

Gov. Nathan Deal, along with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry, today attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the reopening of I-85 after a fire and bridge collapse closed the corridor on March 30. The northbound lanes of the I-85 bridge over Piedmont Road in Atlanta opened to traffic on Friday, May 12, and the southbound lanes reopened on Saturday, May 13. This opening was five weeks ahead of the original June 15 projection.

“When this portion of I-85 collapsed on March 30, Georgia residents and motorists from around the Southeast were confronted by an unexpected and tremendous challenge,” said Deal. “The Georgia Department of Transportation, employees of C.W. Matthews and the people of Georgia responded remarkably by overcoming this challenge in just six short weeks. Georgia’s success is largely the result of strong partnerships that we enjoy, and the same can be said of this particular chapter in our unfolding story. In Georgia, we get things done, and this is a prime example of multiple levels of government, the private sector and the general public working together for the best possible result. I commend the efforts of everyone who worked to make the early reopening of I-85 possible.” 

State Transportation Board Chairman Robert Brown opened the ceremony with remarks, followed by McMurry, Deal and Chao. Plaques were presented to representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. before the commemorative ribbon-cutting.

“We at GDOT understood the urgency and acted accordingly to reopen this corridor in record time,” said McMurry. “We appreciate the support we received from Gov. Deal, Sec. Chao, our federal, state and local partners, members of the State Transportation Board, and our employees, all of whom were instrumental in making this happen. Above all, we are grateful to the people of Georgia for their understanding, patience and resilience.”

This high-traffic section of I-85 carries nearly 243,000 vehicles each day under normal circumstances. GDOT worked around the clock, totaling 54,000 hours of manpower, to rebuild and replace the 700-foot section of roadway quickly and safely, saving motorists an estimated $27 million by reopening the corridor ahead of original projections. In total, crews removed 13 million pounds of debris, and replaced 13 columns, 61 beams and four caps. 

More information on the I-85 rebuild can be found at or