Device that caused traffic gridlock was GSU student project

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ATLANTA —

Georgia State University says a suspicious device that caused the Downtown Connector to be shut down for hours Monday was part of an art project.

Channel 2 Action News had live coverage from the air with NewsChopper 2 and on the ground at the scene of the interstate shutdown which caused traffic gridlock for hours.

The school released a statement Tuesday apologizing, but only after Channel 2's Aaron Diamant questioned them about the device:

“Georgia State University sincerely apologizes for the traffic problems resulting yesterday from the mounting of a student camera at the 14th Street Bridge. The camera was one of 18 used by students in an art project and deployed at various locations in the city. Georgia State Police are closely cooperating with the Atlanta Police Department in the removal of all of the cameras."

Channel 2 Action News obtained photos of the 18 cameras placed across the city. Diamant found one of the cameras still taped to the side of a bridge on Marietta Street Tuesday afternoon. 

The device had a sign that read "Do not touch. Georgia State photo project," similar to a sign attached to the device on the 14th Street bridge.

Atlanta police said they are working to remove the other devices.

The school's faculty elaborated on the project at the Welch School of Art and Design, saying:

"This simple solargraphy project is modeled on a popular global project and introduces students to a simple camera  and time-lapse photography. The light-sensitive paper within the tube records the path of the sun from sunrise to sunset over a 90-day period, yielding multiple light traces of the sun over time. It combines simple analog technology with digital capabilities when student's scan these exposures and produce color imagery."

Diamant confirmed the class is led by associate professor Constance Thalken.

Atlanta police and GSU police met with Thalken and her students Tuesday to warn them about sticking pipes on the side of a bridge.

School police conceeded that the devices looked suspicious.

Georgia State University Asst. Police Chief Carlton Mullis said the cameras posed no danger but putting that type of object in a public place was a bad call.

"They're sort of what you're looking for when you're looking for an exposed explosive device," Mullis said. "You sort of think people would think things through a little bit, the environment that we live in post 9/11, post-Boston, post-Centennial Park."

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Authorities closed the Downtown Connector for two hours in both directions at 14th Street along with several neighboring streets, exit ramps and the 14th Street bridge on Monday.

A spokesperson said police found the tube shaped object duct taped to the side of the bridge over the interstate at the base of a pole.

A worker who saw the device told police there was an inscription that read, “Slow motion video. Do not move until spring.”

A bomb squad technician used a charge to detonate the device.

Police reopened the southbound lanes of the connector just after 4 p.m. Northbound lanes reopened just after 4:30 p.m. but delays lingered through the evening commute.