Demolition continues at the I-85 collapse site. (Photo by Phil Mosier)

When a portion of I-85 collapsed after a fire just over a week ago, spring break was about to begin for many schools and colleges in the area. Many people took vacation time and got out of town. That meant the roads were almost eerily clear this past week, even at the height of rush hour.

Starting this weekend and especially on Monday, heavy traffic will test Atlanta’s already crowded roadways as commuters face the next 10 weeks without I-85. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is still encouraging motorists to use I-285, I-75 and I-20 to get around the collapse area, which is expected to be closed until at least June 15. While the Buford-Spring Connector and Piedmont Road are back open, GDOT officials want those roads used for local traffic. The MARTA rail system is also being pushed as an alternative to get people off the roadways.

MARTA plans to roll out a web-based tracking tool Monday. The new system will provide up-to-the-minute capacity updates for 10 parking facilities across the MARTA rail system. The site will provide real-time updates Monday through Friday, 6-10 a.m. for parking facilities, including North Springs, Sandy Springs and College Park. Periodic updates will be made throughout the business day. The new MARTA parking webpage is located at www.itsmarta.com/parking and will go live Monday, April 10, at 6 a.m. Customers can also view alerts by following live updates on Twitter and Facebook under @MARTAservice.

To help ease parking congestion, MARTA strongly encourages riders to take advantage of ride sharing services, carpool, biking or use designated Kiss/Ride lanes. MARTA buses offer free transfers at rail stations and every vehicle is equipped with a bicycle rack.

“We are especially excited about our partnership with Uber,” said Parker. “The company is offering a 50 percent discount off their pool fare for trips to and from MARTA stations.”

In the initial days following the collapse of a vital portion of I-85, MARTA ridership surged 20 percent system-wide. Breeze card purchases, as well as data from gate usage and parking operations, also signaled a strong uptick in ridership across the system. Thousands of MARTA riders will be greeted again Monday by additional station agents and volunteers assigned to help first-time customers with everything from using the Breeze vending machine to downloading MARTA’s free “On The Go” app to navigate the best route to their destination.

In an effort to reduce traffic congestion the City of Atlanta will have a delayed start of 10 a.m. on Monday, April 10. All essential and emergency personnel should report to work at their regularly-scheduled time.

The Municipal Court of Atlanta will maintain regular hours on Monday. Please note the Municipal Court consider traffic conditions and allow customers to reschedule their case without receiving a FTA warrant. In order to reschedule without penalty, customers must call the Municipal Court the same day at (404) 954-7914.

For more traffic updates and commute options, be sure to visit www.dot.ga.gov.

If you have a student who attends Atlanta Public Schools, a number of bus changes are being made for when classes resume on Monday. Read more about that at this link.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.