Atlanta's bridge collapse – what we know

Submitted by Ingrid on Fri, 03/31/2017 - 09:32

On Thursday, March 30, a fire led to the collapse of a section of the bridge on Interstate 85. All northbound lanes heading out of Midtown Atlanta collapsed during a massive fire, the cause of which is currently undetermined. Further, all southbound lanes will be closed for the time being.

So between Midtown and I-285, using an interstate that swells to about a dozen lanes is not an option for drivers currently.

To see the current traffic situation in Atlanta, go to the Georgia 511 site. To view video of the raging fire, go to this link.

At this point, no injuries are being reported.

What caused the fire and collapse?

At this early stage, the investigation has just begun. A witness reported seeing PVC piping on fire, which will undoubtedly give clues to the origins and progress of the fire. Officials have stated that terrorism is not suspected. Certainly, the investigation into the cause will be thorough and possibly take weeks, even months.

What are some transportation options for travel in the region?

The wonderful organization called Curbed Atlanta offers suggestions of alternative routes. Also, residents should consider if a MARTA train or bus route could get them to their destinations, even if it takes a bit longer. This collapse will likely shut down the interstate for an extended period of time.

How was a similar situation resolved in the Interstate 5 bridge collapse in Washington State?

On May 23, 2013, a truck struck the support of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Burlington, Washington. An entire section of the freeway collapsed into the river. Three people in two vehicles fell into the water, and miraculously sustained only minor injuries.

The State of Washington was able to build a temporary structure and re-open the freeway within one month, installing a detour route during that time. The detour greatly increased travel time in the region, and Governor Jay Inslee declared an economic state of emergency for three surrounding counties (Skagit County, Snohomish County, and Whatcom County) in order to cope with disruption to traffic and the local economy.

What might be the silver lining in this Atlanta traffic nightmare?

Here at the Weinstein Firm, we have always been big proponents of mass transit, with the goal of increasing safety and efficiency in travel around the region. We hope that when residents are forced to use alternative modes of travel, other than individual vehicles, that people will experience the positive side of mass transit systems, and perhaps adopt this method of travel on a permanent basis.

Here's a map of Atlanta transit options

Curbed Atlanta has put together a user-friendly map of Atlanta transit options to help residents deal with the traffic nightmare. Check it out!