Atlanta residents may face travel nightmare after highway bridge collapses


Georgia officials said on Friday they expect repairs to take at least several months after inspecting the wreckage from the fiery collapse of a major interstate highway bridge running through the heart of Atlanta.

Then, they see if the blaze was hot enough to cause moisture within the bridges' concrete to boil or cause damage to the steel bars, he said.

Officials said there's no word on how long it'll take to fix the bridge, but the disaster has shaped up to be a major headache for commuters traveling in and around the city.

"Traffic patterns in Atlanta will be adjusted for everyone, so please listen to local authorities as they direct you around the metro area", the team said in a statement.

While the highway is normally jammed with cars around that time, there were no fatalities, Reed said, as traffic flow had been halted.

An expert in structural engineering says intense heat from a raging fire could have caused an elevated section of Interstate 85 in Atlanta to degrade and eventually collapse. "We would consider it stable", said Stephens.

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Motorists traveling northbound on I-85 from the southside of Atlanta will be diverted to northbound I-75 at Brookwood near 17th Street.

Even before the interstate collapse, the Braves expected traffic congestion on Friday as fans traveled to the ballpark for the first time and found their way to parking lots.

Local TV images showed bright orange flames and thick black smoke billowing into the sky above the freeway as a line of cars stood halted on either side.

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin was driving north on I-85 during evening rush hour when he saw smoke rising from underneath the elevated highway.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency after the interstate collapse, saying the state is mobilizing resources to minimize traffic disruption while emergency work continues. As of this writing, law enforcement still didn't know how this material caught fire or the pipes' owner, CNN reported.

Traffic was successfully turned back by authorities before the bridge collapsed but as state troopers worked on a way to get vehicles off the roadway, thousands of motorists were locked in place on the interstate.

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They included coils of plastic conduit used in fiber optic networks.

Atlantans already suffered through the fourth-worst traffic in America and the ninth worst in the world, Inrix, a global transportation research firm, reported past year.

Andy Herrmann, a retired partner with the New York-based engineering firm Hardesty & Hanover, said there have also been a few instances of gasoline trucks crashing and causing intense heat that damaged overpasses.

"We're trying to determine everything we can about how quickly can we fix it and get it back in service", Deal said.

If you're anxious about driving into work, or anywhere near the city this weekend, MARTA is offering extended service and is increasing rail services.

The location is near the ritzy downtown Atlanta district of Buckhead, sometimes called "the Beverly Hills of the South", which is home to some of the city's biggest businesses, medical centers and diplomatic missions.

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Three people were taken into custody in connection with the fire, said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission. Schools in Atlanta were open, and city and state offices didn't open until 10 a.m. Friday. Atlanta Public Schools moved to hold classes at their regular times, while students in DeKalb County were granted a day off.