Gov. Nathan Deal announced I-85 will be reopen by Monday, May 15, for morning rush hour traffic. Repairs will be completed a full month ahead of the announced June 16 deadline and just six weeks after a fire caused a section of the highway to collapse on March 30.
During a morning press conference at the capitol, Deal thanked drivers for their patience and the media for helping to keep residents informed about road closures and rerouting around the collapse area just south of the Georgia 400 exit.
“The old bridge was demolished and replaced in just six weeks, so we may have set some records in the process,” Deal said. “I am pleasantly surprised. This is a good news day.”
Praise was given to Marietta-based contractor CW Matthews for completing the work ahead of schedule. The company was offered $3 million in incentives to get the repairs completed before Memorial Day weekend. The cost to repair the roadway was estimated at $16 million, but that figure will go higher, GDOT officials confirmed.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said work had been happening at the collapse site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than 700 feet of roadway and 13 support columns were reconstructed, 61 beams fabricated and installed, and 2,100 cubic yards of concrete poured during the repair cycle.
McMurry said inspectors had been on the repair site daily to insure the road was safe and receiving the highest level of inspection.
McMurry said I-85 could actually reopen this Saturday or Sunday, weather permitting. He said there was still work to be done this week, including installation of expansion joints between beams, completion of the barrier dividing the north and south lanes, electrical work in the median for streetlights and re-striping of the lanes.
“I-85 will absolutely be open for business on Monday morning guaranteed,” McMurry said.