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GDOT plans to reopen I-85 by June 15

By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~

The Georgia DOT announced Tuesday it plans to complete the rebuilding of I-85 by June 15, 2017, returning motorists to one of the main arteries through metro Atlanta approximately 10 weeks after its collapse.
“At the Governor’s urging, we are going to incentivize the completion of this work,” said Georgia DOT Director of Construction Marc Mastronardi. “We have selected a date that we believe is aggressive but attainable and will offer a bonus for early completion.”
Georgia DOT has chosen C.W. Mathews Contracting Company, based in Marietta, to lead the rebuilding effort. The company was chosen based on its availability, resources and experience providing a similar response to a tanker fire that damaged I-285 over SR 400 in 2001.
To expedite the rebuilding process, the contractor will be retrofitting the bridge columns, using concrete that will cure in 24 hours and pre-fabricating some elements of the bridge.

GDOT Director Russell McMurry.
GDOT Director Russell McMurry

Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry also announced that he had requested the assistance of Georgia’s Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner and State Fire Marshal to conduct a joint review of Georgia DOT’s storage procedures, practices and policies, especially in proximity to bridges or other transportation infrastructure. GDOT will also be joining with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a party to the investigation of this fire incident.
“We expect the statewide review will provide recommendations regarding best practices that will ensure adequate storage and handling of all materials,” said McMurry. “We hope through the joint review and the NTSB investigation that Georgia and the nation can benefit from the findings.”
As motorists continue to adjust to new traffic patterns, State Traffic Operations Engineer Andrew Heath said Georgia DOT is continuously improving signal timing on the surface streets impacted by the closing of I-85.
Motorists can help when they “Don’t Block the Box.” Heath said drivers can keep traffic flowing smoothly by avoiding entering intersections until it is apparent they can leave on the far side. He also encouraged commuters to consider options such as MARTA and GRTA transit and teleworking as possible.
In addition to traveling with patience, Heath urged drivers to “buckle up, put down their phone, and drive alert to arrive at their destination safely.”