Metro Atlantans whose lives have been knocked off track by the loss of 12 interstate lanes—or whose neighborhoods have been clogged with Waze-guided, wayward drivers—can rejoice.
At a press conference today, Georgia Department of Transportation officials excitedly announced that Interstate 85 in Atlanta will be fully open again before Monday morning’s rush-hour commute—a full month earlier than initially projected.
The better news? Northbound I-85 lanes will probably be open to drivers again this Saturday. And in all likelihood, southbound lanes will open sometime Sunday (provided that predicted rains on Friday aren’t too disruptive), following work that includes final striping and cleanup, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said.
On hand to cheer the announcement, Gov. Nathan Deal said, “This is a day of celebration” that demonstrates “the can-do attitude Georgia has,” according to the AJC.
McMurry lent assurance that the bridge is 100 percent safe, saying inspectors have constantly monitored work, tallying 2,500 hours of inspection time since the notorious March 30th bridge meltdown. The process was blessed by Mother Nature, in that only one full day has been lost due to rain, officials said.
The nearly $17-million job has replaced a dozen lanes on one of the Southeast’s most crucial interstate arteries. For weeks, contractor C.W. Matthews has been gunning for the May 15 reopening deadline to receive a bonus of $3.1 million being offered for early completion.
The silver lining to the interstate collapse has been the boost in MARTA ridership.
The transit agency’s CEO, Keith Parker, recently told WSB-TV that ridership at some stations has exploded by 50 percent in the past five weeks.
With any luck, at least some of these newborn transit customers won’t fall back to their old four-wheeled ways.