BRIDGE COLLAPSE: GDOT says it will take 'several months' to rebuild I-85

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ATLANTA - Commuters are working around a part of Interstate 85 that is closed after a massive fire caused an overpass on Interstate 85 to collapse.

Governor Nathan Deal declared a State of Emergency for Fulton County after the fire that started Thursday during afternoon rush hour.


QUICK FACTS:

  • GDOT says it will take "at least several months" to rebuild I-85
  • Crews will have to remove 3 full sections of I-85 in addition to section that collapsed
  • Northbound lanes of the Buford-Spring Connector will reopen at 2 p.m. but will only be be accessible from surface streets, not I-85

Both northbound and southbound bridges of I-85 south of GA 400 will need to be replaced, Georgia's Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said.

 "At this time, we do not have an anticipated duration for the repairs as we have not been able to fully access the site due to hot spots, but we do know that it is expected to be a time consuming event," GDOT said on its Facebook page Friday.

The massive blaze that was burning underneath I-85 NB near Piedmont Road shut down several roads in northeast Atlanta. Due to continued impaired travel, DeKalb County Schools has canceled class for Friday, March 31.

We have a team of reporters and photographers spread throughout metro Atlanta for live reports on Channel 2 Action News throughout the day.

[ALTERNATE ROUTES: Get around the I-85 bridge collapse]


QUICK FACTS

  • I-85 overpass collapses due to fire
  • No reported injuries
  • All lanes of I-85 North and South are closed from the downtown connector to GA 400
  • GDOT says there is no timeline on when the bridge will be fixed

Witnesses say troopers were telling cars to turn around on the bridge because they were concerned about its integrity. Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.

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ATTENTION DRIVERS:

  • Officials urge you to use MARTA for travel 
  • Consolidate, reduce trips in the area if you must drive
  • HOT lanes on I-85 will only be open for cars with three or more passengers

 

[PHOTOS: Massive fire causes I-85 bridge to collapse]

FOLLOW OUR MINUTE-BY-MINUTE COVERAGE BELOW:

3:02 p.m.

GDOT announces that $10 million in federal funds has been approved from the US DOT for the I-85 bridge repair.

Approximately 700 feet of the roadway –350 feet northbound and 350 feet southbound—will be removed and replaced including support columns.  Demolition will begin this weekend and will continue into Monday, April 3. 

2:45 p.m. 

The Atlanta police department said the following streets/roadways will be OPEN to traffic:

  • West Peachtree St to Buford-Spring Connector Northbound
  • Piedmont Circle to Buford-Spring Connector Northbound

12:30 p.m.

GDOT, Atlanta fire and MARTA hold a news conference. GDOT says it will take "at least several months" to rebuild I-85.

11:37 a.m.

Gov. Deal met with highway officials Friday in response to the bridge collapse. He said it will be a "long process" to repair the bridge.

“As we continue to assess the damage and begin repairs, I ask for the public’s patience and understanding. The fact that no lives were lost is a blessing, and I’m grateful for the courage, hard work and tireless efforts by our state and local first responders. I’m also thankful for the timely response from the federal government. Their expedited assistance will allow GDOT, city officials and private contractors to begin work immediately. The state of Georgia, City of Atlanta and federal government are committed to an expedited and safe resolution of this disaster. 

“Despite our coordinated efforts, this will be a long process. This is due, in part, to the fact that bridge beams must be cast, poured, tested, transported and individually installed. During this time, public safety is our chief priority and primary concern. With your help, we will be better able to ensure the safety of motorists, travelers, first responders and construction crews.”

8:42 a.m.

GDOT says the fire originated in a secured site containing PVC piping:

The extent of the fire-related damage necessitates extensive reconstruction activities to ensure the safety of motorists. We began design of the known damaged sections last night and continue designs as information is received. At this time, we do not have an anticipated duration for the repairs as we have not been able to fully access the site due to hotspots, but we do know that it is expected to be a time consuming event.

6:54 a.m.

Non-essential DeKalb County government personnel are not required to report to work Friday, March 31, due to the collapse of a section of I-85.

6 a.m.

Inspectors with Georgia's Department of Transportation arrived at the fire and collapse site to assess the damage.

5:50 a.m.

Drivers can use the southbound lanes on Piedmont and exit onto the Buford-Spring Connector south. Channel 2's Jason Durden is live over the scene for Channel 2 Action News This Morning.

5:00 a.m.

MARTA says there will be extra service lines running Friday to deal with the increase in riders expected during the morning and afternoon commutes.

 

 

4:30 a.m.

Atlanta Fire is calling in additional units to handle hot spots at the site of the bridge collapse.

3:45 a.m.

GDOT trucks place temporary barricades, blocking I-85 N at Brookwood split

 

 

12:55 a.m.

 

 

12:15 a.m. 

Crews bring in heavy equipment near site of bridge collapse. 

 

 

11:35 p.m.

EPA arrives on the scene to monitor air quality. 

Fire crews say wind is causing hot spots to spark up. 

 

 

 

 

11:30 p.m.

Smoke still billowing from collapse site, hours after fire brings down overpass.

 

 

11:10 p.m.

Transportation officials give update on bridge collapse:

  • Incident will have tremendous impact on traffic, drivers are urged to adjust plans accordingly 
  • Drivers are encouraged to consolidate and reduce trips in the affected area
  • Repair is top priority; It is unknown how long it will take to correct 
  • Officials say they are doing everything they can to make sure bridge will be reopened safely and quickly
  • Drivers should stay home or use MARTA, GDOT says
  • HOT lanes on I-85 will only be open for cars with three or more passengers starting at 6 a.m.

 

 

 

10:50 p.m.

MARTA providing additional services to accommodate the expected influx of passengers. 

 

 

10:35 p.m.

Fulton County government offices will open at 10:00 a.m.  Friday, March 31. Fulton County schools will open at normal times. 

 

 

10:30 p.m.

Rain falling at collapse sight, but crews continue working. 

 

 

10:10 p.m.

Governor Nathan Deal declares State of Emergency in Fulton County. "The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety and minimize disruption of traffic as we continue emergency response efforts," Deal said.

“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. As this safety investigation and bridge assessment continues, we encourage the public to avoid the affected area, remain patient and allow first responders to perform their jobs. 

 

 

9:55 p.m.

Traffic is being diverted due to the bridge collapse. Diversion points will remain in place for at least the next few hours.

  • I-85 SB is closed at the GA 400 NB ramp. All traffic is being pushed onto GA 400 NB.
  • I-75/85 NB traffic is being diverted onto I-75 NB
  • I-75 SB traffic is not being allowed onto I-85 NB; must use 75/85 SB
  • GA 400 SB traffic is being diverted at Lenox Road in Buckhead. 

 

['Unreal': Atlantan's react to the fire, bridge collapse on I-85]

9:45 p.m. 

DeKalb County schools cancel class for Friday, March 31. "After careful evaluation, the district has determined that it will not be able to transport students to and from school efficiently given the transportation events this evening," Superintendent R. Stephen Green said.

9:40 p.m. 

In an update from Atlanta fire, Channel 2's Mark Winne learned command staff saw concrete begin to crumble and got crews out safely before it collapsed. 

 

 

9:09 p.m.

Mayor Kasim Reed says Atlanta schools will operate on a normal schedule Friday, March 31. State and city offices will delay opening until 10:00 a.m. Atlanta Public School said it is working on a transportation plan to move buses to the North Atlanta cluster to ensure buses are available to transport students.

 

[Department of Health warns of smoke from I-85 fire]

9:07 p.m. 

Drivers bail out of cars along Cheshire Bridge Road due to major gridlock. 

 

 

9:03 p.m.

MARTA CEO says they will provide extended service through the weekend and possibly beyond. 

 

 

9:00 p.m. 

Interstate I-85 SB re-opens starting at Shallowford Road. Traffic will pace all the way to Cheshire Bridge Road.

8:50 p.m.

GDOT said its inspectors are looking over the collapse. GDOT officials said the scene is still too hot for them to inspect and there is no timeline on a fix. 

 

 

8:40 p.m.

Atlanta police urge drivers to stay in place so officers can clear cars off the road.

FBI says this is not a criminal act and the fire was an accident. The fire is still being put out and will be investigated. 

 

 

 

8:10 p.m.

Gov. Nathan Deal says plans are being formulated to handle rerouting traffic.

 

 

8:00 p.m.

Drivers are asked to turn around on the interstate. 

 

 

7:45 p.m.

Trucks from the Atlanta airport use foam usually used for plane crashes to put out the fire. 

 

 

7:07 p.m. 

I-85 overpass collapses due to massive fire. 

 

 

7:00 p.m. 

Smoke seen for miles due to large fire burning near I-85.

 

 

6:45 p.m.

Witnesses report seeing smoke on I-85. They said troopers told them to turn around.