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.


I-85 HOT Lanes Failure And Why It Won’t Work In Alabama.

Over the holidays I went to see the new HOT lanes on I-85 north of Atlanta.  This is where you have to have a Peach Pass to use the far left lane.  If you have less than 3 people you have to pay a toll that changes on the time of day and traffic conditions.  If you have 3 or more people the lane is free.  Also the mass transit buses use the lane free as well.  Most people have been against this type of lane because we already pay taxes to upkeep the infrastructure.  Why should we have to pay extra.  These types of lanes exist in cities around the country and work very well; except Atlanta.  Being in the heart of conservative country it is no surprise.  Also several websites like and have popped up to protest the new HOT lane.  Georgia DOT had plans to build new HOT lanes along I-75 and I-575 but have now been put on hold because of the very low traffic counts in the new HOT lane.  I went to the Indian Trail – Lilburn Rd. interchange to photograph the new lanes on a Wednesday around 12:00pm.  I was there for around 30 minutes and I only counted 5 cars and a bus using the new HOT lanes.  Granted this was the holiday season and traffic was a little bit lower.  But this has been going on since the lanes were changed over from a HOV lane to a HOT lane.

You can enter or exit the lane at certain points.  The signs will be purple and green.

The boards display the price to enter the lane.  The prices change depending on time of day and traffic conditions.

The boards update the price in regular intervals.  Notice there is a transponder over each free lane if one decides to cheat the system.

One of the very few cars in the HOT lane.  The lane uses a transponder to record the toll.  And a camera to record any violators.

Look at how quiet the HOT lane is.  There is no cars at all.

There’s a car!

There is an growing frustration in metro Atlanta about these lanes not working and causing traffic to be worse.  And why millions of dollars were wasted on a project that is not working.  That money could have been spent on repaving roads.

Now here is the issue on why this might effect Alabama.  There is a lobbying group called the U.S. Tolling Coalition.  They are calling for allowing the states the option to toll interstates for road funding.  Alabama is the only state that has the state’s D.O.T. and the biggest road lobbying group together to support this measure.  Both ALDOT and the Alabama Road Builders Association support tolling all the interstates in Alabama.  The problem is this is not going to work.  For one people are not wanting to be tracked with those transponders.  And two the local roads will be overwhelmed with interstate traffic that does not want to pay a toll.  Many people are wondering why has the costs to build and repair a road have gone up big time.  We need to find ways to reduce the costs on road construction.  Not track people with those toll transponders.  Until there are major changes within Alabama state government and ALDOT.  I will never get hired by them at all.  That is why I am quieting working on the Redo AL’S Roads project.  Which I hope it will be finished real soon.  I am going to leave you with a video from Freewayjim.  Showing what Alabama could become this video is I-90 in Chicago with all of those tolls.