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Ambitious timeline for Atlanta’s I-85 reconstruction unveiled

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GDOT says project will be complete in 10 weeks, but precedent indicates it could be done even sooner

Booms tearing down the concrete structure.
Demolition of the interstate bridge.

Yesterday, Georgia Department of Transportation officials made legions of metro Atlantans happy when they announced that reconstruction of the destroyed Interstate 85 overpass would wrap by June 15.

Demolition of the damaged sections has been proceeding around the clock, in hopes the destruction phase will be finished by week’s end. Plans call for construction of the new bridge to proceed 24/7 until it’s complete.

According to GDOT, plans for the reconstruction were ready in just three days; these plans were then transferred to the contractor, C.W. Matthews, on Sunday night to kick off the production process for the beams that will hold up the interstate.

While seemingly ambitious, the 10-week timeline is not entirely unprecedented.

Atlanta isn’t the first city to have a catastrophic failure along a major interstate artery. The AJC has compiled a list of similar disasters over the last several years, noting that repairs had been often made in a matter of weeks, not long months, as many have feared.

In other cases, ambitious timelines have been met by offering contractors incentives to complete the work ahead of schedule. By enticing contractors with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses—small sums compared to the daily fiscal impact of the bridge being closed—projects can be accomplished quickly.

Following the collapse last week, Atlantans far and wide feared the worst: many months or even a year without I-85. However, experts like David Levinson quickly drew comparisons to similar incidents and came up with estimates not too far off from the June 15 target.

In the meantime, public transportation has become a viable choice for many transit newbies to move around the city. For those hoping to hop a bus or train to survive the next few weeks, our map of available automobile alternatives will be a handy tool.