Neighborhoods feeling impact of I-85 collapse

ATLANTA — Neighborhood streets are feeling the brunt of drivers looking for alternate routes because of the Interstate 85 bridge collapse.

Channel 2's Nicole Carr spoke with homeowners Friday who said they are getting used to a "new normal."

“The traffic around here just got to the point where it was just total chaos,” said Piedmont Heights neighbor Karen Argrette-Richardson.

For some neighbors, it's all about finding a silver lining.


“Well I'm happy in a way that they're discovering Piedmont Heights,” Argrette-Richardson told Carr.

Carr spent much of Friday afternoon sitting in what’s being called alternate route traffic, the result of Thursday’s massive I-85 fire and collapse.

Drivers did their best to use roads like Cheshire Bridge to get to their daily destination.

“There's no alternate routes at this point. Everyone's on the same few routes," one driver said.

Often times they ended up navigating the likes of Ansley Park and Piedmont Heights, places where through traffic can be problematic during normal rush hours.

“Please stop clogging up the roads,” Argrette-Richardson said.

Click image for alternate routes around I-85

Alternate Routes

Now this traffic is an indefinite all-day affair.

"I would appreciate it if they would get turned onto MARTA, you know? Come on, let's use public transportation," a neighbor told Carr.

While train travel is working out just fine, Carr found people who have given up on the buses along their neighborhood routes because of the congestion.

Businesses bracing for hit after interstate fire

Channel 2's Carl Willis spoke with some businesses near the I-85 closures and got insight into how it may be affecting them.

Boutique owner Myriam Belasse says "from where I was standing I was starting to feel some heat so I was getting a little nervous, especially when I saw the flame going up past the bridge."

These business owners and operators are literally in the shadow of the city's transportation crisis and they're wondering what the future holds with potential customers unable to pass through the area.

"Hopefully, they'll open up half of the road so people can travel and come and support the businesses that are here, because without that we're all going to die," Belasse said.

"We couldn't help what happened yesterday but it's going to take a toll on the whole neighborhood," India Ashe, an Atlanta hairstylist said.

There are concerns about attracting customers and getting products on trucks for distribution as well.

"We think it could be good for business because of the traffic or it could really suck. People could say, 'I'm not going down that road' and find other ways around," said Johnny's Pizza owner Greg Nichols. "This is just up in the air right now."

Nichols, who lost power Thursday night shortly after a section of I-85 collapsed, said he had no choice but to close early.

"We close at 11 p.m. We lost a good amount of business already," said Nichols.

Johnny's Pizza is located west of I-85 along Cheshire Bridge Road Northeast. West of the interstate, Sweetwater Brewing Co. is bracing for logistical adjustments.

"There's some big concerns. We've spoken to our vendors and talked to our trucking company about how we are going to get trucks in and out of here," said Steve Farace, Sweetwater VP of branding and culture.

Farace said overnight shifts and weekends are under consideration.

"When those 18-wheelers come into the neighborhood, they'll pull up to our docks, get unloaded, and get back out of here before the congestion hits again," said Farace.

Sweetwater is located in an industrial circle where there is only one way in and out.

American Spirit Distillery shared similar concerns.

"We need to have at least commercial access in and out. We need that to be able to ship goods in and finished products out," said ASW Distillery co-owner Jim Chasteen.

Sweetwater and ASW Distillery are open for tours and tastings.

"People coming to see us is the lifeblood of our business," said ASW Distillery co-owner Charlie Thompson. "If they think they can't get into the neighborhood, if they don't want to deal with the traffic, that can be detrimental to our existence."