I-85 Set To Reopen On May 26

May 13, 2017

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) issued good news today for commuters and residents in the Atlanta. According to GDOT's latest estimates, the portion of I-85 which was closed after a fire and caused the road to collapse will reopen to traffic on May 25, 2017. GDOT's commissioner announced the news today during GDOT's weekly briefing on the progress of the I-85 reconstruction project.

GDOT's commissioner voiced his gratitude to the people of the Atlanta metropolitan area for their patience and understanding during this trying time. The commissioner also praised the efforts of the people working on the reconstruction site for their effort and determination.

Crews have worked around the clock seven days per week, weather permitting, to repair the road. GDOT's commissioner expressed his elation at the speed with which crews have progressed to this point. Teams are ready to pour concrete on the last two sections of the span. They needed to rebuild six spans of the bridge, as three collapsed as a result of the March 30 fire. Inspectors ordered the demolition of three other spans because they were deemed structurally unsound as a consequence of the damage caused by the fire.

The general contractor helming the project also expressed his praise and gratitude to his workers for their efforts and emphasized that their commitment to the project was a source of pride for all who worked on it. He also recognized that they were under the microscope on this project because people would be anxiously watching the progress of the reconstruction. Moreover, he told reporters that good weather, fast setting concrete, and exhaustive planning contributed to the speed with which the project has progressed.

As a result of GDOT's and the contractor's efforts, the project will be completed a full three weeks ahead of schedule. GDOT indicated that a project of this magnitude usually takes approximately three to four times longer. Authorities emphasized, again, that they refuse to sacrifice safety at the expense of quickly completing the project, even if the contractor could earn as much as $3.1 million in bonuses for early completion. To be sure, both GDOT and the contractor claimed that the I-85 bridge reconstruction has been heavily regulated and frequently inspected.

The project has now entered one if its final phases. Crews continue to pour concrete to complete the road surface. Once that task has been finalized, crews will install barricades and then stripe the roads. Now that all of the enormous steel beams and concrete columns have been installed, officials expect that there will be no need to close Piedmont Road again to accommodate the transport of construction materials.

As the I-85 rebuild enters its last few weeks, authorities revealed the expected price tag for this unexpected and unforeseeable expense. GDOT anticipates the project will cost taxpayers $16.6 million. The federal government has already pledged $10 million of emergency funds and agreed to pay 90% of the cost. The remaining $1.6 million must be allocated from other GDOT projects. The agency plans on postponing some upcoming projects to pay for the cost to repair the bridge. Officials expressed their opinion that the general contractor and the state openly and honestly negotiated a price for the entire project, which included demolition and clean up to reconstruction using quick-setting concrete, a product which is more expensive than the concrete GDOT normally uses. Of course, GDOT believed the expense is justifiable given the urgency of the situation.

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