The Interstate 85 Atlanta Bridge Collapse Traffic Apocalypse

Today, a major event happened in Atlanta Metro that is going to cause traffic chaos for the next few months.  A section of the Interstate 85 elevated bridge between the Interstate 75 split to the Georgia 400 split collapsed.  The northbound bridge now has a major gap in it.  The southbound bridge is still all intact but we don’t know if the fire has compromised a section of the bridge as well.

Here are some social media reactions to the collapse.

So, what could have caused this fire that has caused a major interstate bridge to collapse?  All you have to do is look at Google Maps!  Apparently, under the bridge there are fiber optic cables that were being stored.  It looks like it could be cable for traffic management systems because no DOT’s anywhere in the country would allow stuff like this to be stored under a major infrastructure corridor.

A viewer sent in a photo to WSB-TV apparently showing the fire starting.

Of course, there will be investigations about how this fire started.  But the Georgia DOT needs to explain why a ton of cables like this were allowed to be stored under a major bridge.  Were these cables for the DOT that they were going to use, or was a private company storing these here for their use?  Either way, this was very stupid!  So, we are now talking about up to six months of major traffic gridlock in the Atlanta Metro, up to six months!

Two major traffic corridors to get into downtown Atlanta from the very crowded northern suburbs are now cut-off.  You can’t take I-85 north of downtown or Georgia 400 into downtown Atlanta.  So, the only two alternatives to get into downtown Atlanta now involves getting onto the Interstate 285 loop.  You can either take the loop south to get to I-20, or you can take the loop west to I-75.  I-285, especially between I-85 and I-75 on the northside of Atlanta is already a jam packed traffic cluster fest every day.  So, let’s add even more traffic to this, yeah its not good!

Now, there is a parallel freeway next I-85 called Georgia 13 or the Buford Spring Connector.  There are ramps on either side of the bridge collapse that could provide a local temporary detour to I-85.

But let’s be honest, those ramps are only one lane and Georgia 13 is only two lanes.  So, it’s like draining a gallon of water with a tiny straw.  I am glad this option is here, but this detour will not be the best solution for the up to 250,000 cars who travel through this section every day.  I-285 or better yet using mass transit will be the best option.

So, with a major traffic corridor shutdown for months.  I want to talk about two things in the Atlanta Metro where I will say, I told you so!  First off, the Atlanta Braves will soon be playing their games in their brand new Suntrust Park.  The park is in one of the worst traffic chokepoints in the entire southeastern USA, the I-75 / I-285 interchange in NW Atlanta.  I wrote a post explaining why I never liked the new Atlanta Braves stadium location, and now I can smile and nod my head.  Now, with even more traffic that will have to go this way to get to work, go home, or run errands, good luck trying to get to the ballpark!  Why was no major mass transit options planned when this park was in the planning stages?

As for mass transit, Atlanta has a subpar mass transit system.  Sure, there is MARTA but it mostly runs inside the I-285 loop except for a portion of the northern route.  With a lack of commuter rail and major bus options in the Atlanta suburbs, people are now going to be bitten in the rear end for not planning mass transit properly!  What will the political fallout be over this bridge collapse and the lack of good mass transit options like light rail or commuter rail?  One thing is for sure, Atlanta needs more mass transit options, and the people living in the suburbs can get over the poorer people using it and coming to the suburbs!

Well, one can wish that we can just fly over this bridge gap like these just some good ole’ boys.


Roadscapes Wednesday: Happy Place Video

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

On this Roadscapes Wednesday, let’s do something a little different!  The Vimeo channel   created a short film called Happy Place.  And for those who will be buying toys for their kids this Christmas season, this is something cool you need to watch.  Heck, if you are not buying any toys, still watch this!

The film is about a toy truck imprisoned inside its packaging and stuck on a toy shop shelf, a lonely radio-controlled toy truck uses its imagination to go on an adventure and find its happy place.  The toy shop was filmed in England while the desert scenes were shot in Nevada.  And the filmmakers used a shot in-camera technique and a forced perspective scenes for the toys in the desert.

Yep, even toys can have an imagination, enjoy!

Roadscapes Wednesday: The 30 Dumbest Road Signs

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

Yeah, I think we all have seen a dumb road sign here and there.  And the YouTube channel Top Media has compiled a countdown highlighting the 30 dumbest road signs you might find on the side of the road.  From confusing to outright dangerous, enjoy!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Say So Long To US 431 On Quintard Avenue

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

For about hundred years now, US 431 has been routed down Quintard Avenue in Anniston.  It is paired with AL-21 and it’s one of the busiest roads in East Alabama.  In fact, I even made an Roadscapes video highlighting Quintard Ave.  But very soon, my video will be outdated!  Because US 431 is about to leave Quintard Avenue forever.

That’s right, when the Anniston Eastern Bypass fully opens, US 431 will be the official routing.  The original plan from ALDOT was to have US 431 continue onto Quintard Avenue, and the new bypass be named AL-901.  As seen from the blueprint below of the new intersection in Saks.


But, things have changed!  When the bypass fully opens, US 431 will go onto the bypass.  And instead of taking US 78 in Oxford, US 431 will go onto Interstate 20 between exits 188 and 191.  How do I know this?  Because ALDOT put up BGS signs at the exit 188 interchange in Oxford.

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For now, ALDOT has used black cloth to cover up the US 431 shields, since the bypass is not fully open yet.  But, the cloth was not put on very good since it’s temporary.  Thanks to some wind blowing the cloths open.  You can tell what is being covered up is US 431.

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So, when the bypass fully opens, all of the current US 431 signs along Quintard Ave. and US 78 will be removed.  But don’t worry, Quintard Ave. will still be a state highway as AL-21 will still be traveling down the busy road.  One has to wonder, with US 431 moving, how much of the traffic levels will drop off along Quintard Ave?

Roadscapes Wednesday: Will The US 280 Flyovers Ever Be Built

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

On this Roadscapes Wednesday, I am opening up the Geek Alabama mailbag!  A person named Roman Selig e-mailed me about the horrible and disastrous US Highway 280!  Roman wrote:

I consider the last “improvements” to Hwy. 280 as a band aid. I don’t think the traffic problems on 280 will be cured until something is done to eliminate the bottle neck at 280 and I-459. I know that a flyover was started but then stopped when talk of other improvements – elevated highway, etc. – began. That’s why there is a dysfunctional traffic arrangement for traffic exiting I-459. It’s too bad that none of those plans were implemented but I’m sure you know that there will never be consensus and the only way something like that will happen is if ALDOT just makes an executive decision. I realize that is probably impossible because of too many politicians being involved, which trumps engineering judgment.

So, that brings me to my question. Is a flyover at 280 and I-459 back on the table and if so, when would it be implemented? As I stated earlier, since the flyover had been started before (ROW’s had to be obtained, etc.) then I assume the only thing standing in the way is backing and funding. This is sorely needed and would be a big improvement to 280 traffic. When you consider the present cost to individuals and businesses that are caused by the problems with 280, it would seem that this project would be a top priority. ALDOT and the state might even get funding help just by asking. I know that I would contribute.

US 280 / I-459 interchange from Google Maps.

US 280 / I-459 interchange from Google Maps.

Yes, there has been talk about an US 280 flyover at the I-459 interchange. As of right now, there are two traffic signals governing the traffic coming off I-459 and getting on I-459.  On one side, you will find an intersection with 11 red lights!

Back in 2014, several trees were taken down to plan building the flyover, but nothing has been done since then.  The reason why nothing has been done is because of a lack of funding. From this story from WBRC, ALDOT says they need $50 million in funding to build one flyover from US 280 west to I-459 south.  The flyover project could be years away, or might not happen at all.  It all depends on politicians and road funding.

Now, to make you even less secure about a flyover ever being built.  This story from the Anniston Star talks about how road funding will be the next big battle in the Alabama Legislature.  And given how there are many of these so called “Tea Party no new taxes bozos” in the legislature.  The future of the US 280 flyovers, or any other new roads in Alabama, looks very bleak!

But hey, you can say we have one of the worst road systems in Alabama!  You can also say we have one of the worst and corrupt DOT’s in America!  That’s Alabama for you.  All I can say is enjoy sitting in the US 280 traffic for years to come, I hate saying that!