Atlanta Interstate 85 Set To Reopen 5 Weeks Early

Commuters in Atlanta have good reason to cheer: Interstate 85 will be open by Monday, May 15! This is a surprising turn of events because the rebuild for the bridge that collapsed on March 30 wasn’t scheduled to be completed for at least another five weeks.

[Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

According to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the new bridge will be accessible by drivers in time for rush hour traffic on Monday morning.

Interstate 85 Sneak Peak This Weekend?

Governor Deal Announces opening of Atlanta Interstate 85
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announces May 15 opening of I85

Governor Deal promised the Interstate 85 bridge will be ready for Atlanta drivers by Monday, but that doesn’t mean locals won’t be able to drive across the bridge over Piedmont Road before then. If the weather stays nice, the bridge may be opened at some point during the weekend. Because of this, Atlanta area residents who need to travel through the area this weekend should check their local news for the latest updates.

Progress of the Interstate 85 Bridge to Date

The final stages of construction began on Tuesday, which does put the Interstate 85 bridge in line for the newly promised opening date. The construction crew has painted markers on the road and completed the striping process.

How Did the Atlanta Interstate 85 Bridge Get Finished So Quickly?

Everyone wants road construction to be over as quickly as possible, but that doesn’t mean that beating the anticipated schedule by five weeks comes without some concern and controversy. Construction crews from C.W. Matthews have been working in Atlanta 24 hours a day, and that certainly helped speed everything up. Additionally, the decision was made to use a concrete mixture that is known to cure quicker than the typical road mix.

This has caused many to express fears that the Atlanta Interstate 85 bridge won’t be safe. The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently published a few questions from concerned citizens, and the Georgia Department of Transportation responded with assurances that everything has been handled properly. Only time will tell, of course, but there’s another factor that has sped everything up: money.

Contractors Aiming for Bonus Money

Interstate 85 is a major road in Atlanta, and the bridge being out has caused constant backups and major financial losses for local businesses. As a result, it’s no wonder that the Georgia Department of Transportation was willing to pay more than usual for the emergency repair. This is something that has undoubtedly influenced the construction crew’s speed, especially considering the fact that large bonuses were tied into finishing the project earlier than expected.

It would have cost an estimated $8.8 million for the Atlanta Interstate 85 repair job to be completed on time. However, due to the many issues that were caused by the missing bridge, contractors were given an incentive program to encourage them to move at a faster pace.

Interestingly, the top possible bonus of $3.1 million was tied to a reopen date of May 15. It makes sense for the contractor to shoot for this date because the amount of their possible bonus drops every day after this point.

By May 24, which was the last reopen date with a bonus attached to it, C.W. Matthews would have only collected an extra $1.5 million. If the Interstate 85 bridge in Atlanta reopens by Monday morning as expected, the contractor will collect an estimated total of $11.9 million.

Less Headaches for Atlanta Commuters

As long as the bridge is safe and was built to last for a long time, Atlanta residents will be happy. At least 220,000 people drive that stretch of freeway on a daily basis, so the $3.1 million bonus definitely seems justifiable. If all goes according to plan, Atlanta residents will have much fewer headaches by Monday when they begin using that stretch of Interstate 85 again.

[Featured image by David Goldman/AP Images]