Atlanta Overpass repair May 10

Atlanta’s Interstate 85 Bridge Northbound Lane Now Open: The Overpass Fire’s Causes And Costs

Atlanta’s Interstate 85 overpass bridge will be ready for the Monday morning commute. The overpass bridge has been closed since March 30 due to an uncontrollable fire that took out a section of the overpass.

The Interstate 85 overpass project is more than one month ahead of schedule, but it is still not a moment too soon for the residents of Atlanta and the local, state and federal government. Locals, travelers, and visitors alike rely on the Interstate 85 highway through Atlanta.

Atlanta’s Interstate 85 northbound lanes are already open, and the southbound is expected to be open by Monday morning, but probably sooner. Traffic has been a problem despite an increase in the use of public transit and a detour route. Traffic is usually very congested on the overpass bridge during rush hours, so the overflow into city streets has made the morning and evening drive frustrating for locals, tourists and those passing through as well.

The Atlanta Interstate 85 overpass bridge fire was allegedly set by a homeless suspect, who denies the charges against him. Basil Eleby has been charged with first-degree arson, but his attorney alleges Basil is being scapegoated. Attorney Liz Markowitz is quoted in the Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

“I have dedicated my entire career to protecting indigent clients who are human beings and not causes.”

In Atlanta, after the Interstate 85 overpass bridge fire, a coalition of advocates for the homeless, as well as civil rights advocates, released a statement in defense of Mr. Eleby quoted in the Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

“[The coalition] is concerned that Mr. Eleby is being used as a ‘scapegoat’ by government officials to avoid public scrutiny and accountability.”

After the Interstate 85 fire, three homeless persons were arrested in Atlanta. One of them, Sophia Brauer alleges that Basil Eleby admitted to starting the fire according to WSB TV 3 News, but Eleby is not pleading guilty.

Ms. Brauer also alleges she saw Mr. Eleby near a smoldering dumpster under the Interstate 85 overpass bridge. Then Brauer allegedly saw a burning chair stacked on top of a shopping cart.

Basil Eleby suspected of setting the Interstate 85 Bridge fire
Basil Eleby is pictured with Attorney Liz Markowitz and police suspected of setting the I 85 Bridge fire [Image by Henry P. Taylor/Getty Images]

The Interstate 85 overpass bridge apparently served not only as housing for the homeless but storage of supplies owned by the state Department of Transportation. The State of Georgia’s Transportation Department alleges that only high-density polyethylene pipes and fiber optic wire cabling were stored under the bridge. Neither of these materials is combustible.

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell R McMurry told the Atlanta Journal – Constitution the materials had been stored there for up to 11 years. McMurry explained that the materials were not flammable.

“It does not ignite. It takes something to cause something like that to burn. It is a high-density plastic that is not combustible.”

The Atlanta Interstate 85 overpass bridge project is predicted to cost $16.6 million dollars according to the Atlanta Journal – Constitution. The United States Department of Transportation is expected to pay 90 percent of the cost.

The State of Georgia has already received $10 million toward the Interstate 85 overpass bridge project according to the Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

Atlanta interstate 85 overpass fire March 30
Atlanta interstate 85 overpass bridge fire on March 30 [Image by David Goldman.Getty Images]


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The Interstate 85 overpass bridge is a vital part of the United States transportation system since interstate 85 is a major transportation artery for the east coast. In addition, Atlanta is the largest city in the Southeastern United States. Traffic is already incredibly heavy in the area.

The Interstate 85 overpass bridge in Atlanta will be completed by Monday morning, according to the Department of Transportation.

[Featured Image by David Goldman/Getty Images]