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David Goldman / Associated Press

Weather permitting, the Interstate 85 bridge could reopen this weekend, nearly a month-and-a-half after it collapsed from a fire. However, that doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing throughout the area near that site.

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The Georgia Department of Transportation is resurfacing roads from the Brookwood Split to Clairmont Road.

Some of that work was started during the bridge construction.

I-85 Bridge Opening Should Beat Deadline By Weeks

May 1, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

The I-85 overpass should re-open on May 26, weeks before the original date of June 15.

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That's the word Monday afternoon from Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.

"We have not lost one full day of weather in this time frame, even though we've had some sporadic showers, just like we've had today,” he said “The contractor's been able to make the most of the weather."

Courtesy of GDOT

Atlanta commuters caught a break Tuesday morning: Repair work on Interstate 20 was completed a few hours ahead of schedule.

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Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale originally expected I-20 to be reopened around noon, but shortly after 6 a.m., all westbound lanes of the roadway were repaired.

All westbound lanes around Candler and Gresham roads were shut down for hours after part of the roadway buckled Monday.

Al Such / WABE

More than 18,000 people have signed a petition to preserve an illegally-built skatepark underneath an Interstate 85 bridge close to the site of the recent bridge collapse.

The petition, which will be delivered to Mayor Kasim Reed, Gov. Nathan Deal and several Georgia Department of Transportation officials has received national attention from supporters and members of the skateboarding community, earning signatures from states as far away as Arizona.

Susanna Capelouto / WABE

Last week's fire on Interstate 85 has stirred debate about whether construction materials should be stored beneath overpasses.

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The pipes kept underneath I-85 were made of fiberglass and 'high density polyethylene,’ or HDPE. The Georgia Department of Transportation says those materials aren't highly flammable. But Mi Geum Chorzepa, an assistant professor at UGA’s college of engineering, says the material could be partly to blame.

Alison Guillory / WABE

This marks the first full week for Atlanta commuters trying to get around town following last week's fiery collapse of a bridge on Interstate 85.

Crews are working non-stop removing debris from the 350-foot section of the bridge that crumbled after a major fire erupted underneath.

That section is closed and some side roads in the area are blocked off, forcing commuters to take detours, clogging surface streets.

Alex Sanz / Associated Press

Following the collapse of a portion of an Interstate 85 overpass due to a massive fire Thursday, the interstate has been completely shut down between the I-75/Brookwood split and the North Druid Hills exit of I-85, according to an official announcement by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Recently, the GDOT opened a few more routes to ease the congestion drivers saw Friday, including the readdition of a portion of I-85 Northbound, where drivers must now exit at the Buford Spring Connector.

Susanna Capelouto / WABE

With Interstate 85 shut down between Interstate 75 and GA 400, the Georgia Department of Transportation and other transit agencies were scrambling Thursday night for options for commuters in a city already often laden with traffic. 

The interstate, which carries 250,000 cars per day, is a major thoroughfare for traffic heading north and south through Atlanta. Possible alternatives for drivers could include utilizing the Xpress Bus Service and Peach Pass express lanes.

Outside metro Atlanta, GDOT launched CHAMP, a new highway assistance program for the major interstates.
Courtesy of GDOT

Drivers in metro Atlanta have come to rely on HERO units, Highway Emergency Response Operators.

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Now Georgia’s Department of Transportation has launched a similar program for the rest of the state’s major highways.

CHAMP, the Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) is similar to HERO. However, HERO, with its signature bright orange trucks are primarily in metro Atlanta. That program's focus is emergency response and traffic control.   

I-75 South Express Lanes Debut This Weekend

Jan 27, 2017
Georgia Department of Transportation

The I-75 South Metro express lanes are scheduled to make their debut Saturday. 

The Georgia Department of Transportation says the lanes will head northbound toward Atlanta on weekends.

On weekdays, they will reverse from northbound to southbound at 11 a.m. and return back to northbound at 10:30 p.m.

Drivers need a Peach Pass to ride on these lanes.

April Williams / WABE

Politics are behind where Georgia builds new roads, according to a majority of local officials surveyed in a state audit critical of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s planning division for failing to effectively review major infrastructure projects before they’re selected for construction.  

GDOT “lacks initial selection criteria” the audit said, and “projects are scored after” GDOT has already decided to build them. The audit says GDOT’s analysis criteria “are not well aligned” with the agency’s goals.

GDOT Transportation Management Center in Atlanta
Alison Guillory / WABE

The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plan to open Georgia’s first “reversible" express toll lanes on Jan. 28.  

They include two additional lanes along 12 miles of Interstate-75, south of the city of Atlanta.

Reversible lanes will let drivers drive north toward the city during the morning rush hour and south the rest of the day, between 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Transportation Technology

Michell Eloy / WABE

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Metro Atlanta.

It goes into effect Friday at 7 p.m. and ends Saturday at 1 p.m.

"In the Atlanta metro area, it will probably start as a rain-snow mix, but we'll later see all that change over to snow," said NWS meteorologist Kent McMullen.

While it’s still unclear how much snow the area could see, NWS cautiously predicts as much as 3 inches could fall in north Georgia, with lighter accumulation in metro Atlanta.

April Williams / WABE

Georgia's roads are in tough shape.

You won't get much debate on that — not even from the Georgia Department of Transportation. But things have picked up in the last 18 months thanks to the passage of a state transportation funding act in 2015.

G-DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale says an increased gas tax has brought in more than $2.5 billion so far. And some of the projects that money is paying for are coming to fruition.

David Goldman / associated press file

It's December and temperatures are dropping, but state and local officials say they are ready for whatever Mother Nature and Jack Frost have in store this winter.

No snow is expected in north Georgia this weekend, but the Georgia Department of Transportation is fully stocked in case some of the white stuff – or even worse, ice – appears sometime over the next few months.

“[We have] just over 50,000 tons of salt, just over 65,000 tons of gravel, 385 snow removal equipment units, throughout the state and we are at capacity on brine,” said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale.

Frigid Weather To Descend Upon Georgia This Week

Dec 8, 2016
MariaGodFrida, via Pixabay

Georgians may want to make sure they've got warm jackets and blankets within reach.

Frigid weather is coming to Georgia this week thanks to an Arctic-type air mass flying south from Canada.

“The next couple of days we’re looking at mid-20’s approximately for lows roughly and then the lower 40’s for highs," said Brian Lynn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

According to the NWS, those temps are 10 to 15 degrees below what is normal in Georgia for this time of year.

   

The public is invited to get information and give input on a proposed widening project on Interstate-85 in Gwinnett County.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials say the plan calls for reconstructing nearly 13 miles of I-85 near I-985, just north of Georgia Route 211, and just over 11 miles of I-85 from Georgia Route 211 to just north of U.S. 129.

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

  

There may soon be an easy, quick way for metro Atlantans to get to Chattanooga and vice versa.

A study conducted by the Georgia Department of Transportation has listed three potential routes for a high-speed train service for Atlanta and Chattanooga.

According to the GDOT, the best-performing route would be nearly 130 miles long along Interstate-75, with eight stations.

The report says the trip would be just under 90 minutes.

Downtown Connector
Alison Guillory / WABE

Metro Atlanta's infamous traffic will likely be a little rougher than usual this weekend.

There's a lot of construction projects planned between now and Monday morning, so drivers can expect a number of ramp and lane closures over the next 48 hours.

On Interstate-75, three southbound lanes will be shut down between Marietta Parkway and Delk Road from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

On Interstate-20, two eastbound lanes between Thornton Road and Fulton Industrial Boulevard will close Friday night at 7 p.m. and not reopen until Monday at 5 a.m.

April Williams / WABE

  

Commuters in Cobb County will have to be extra patient Friday. 

Traffic pacing will be in effect on parts of Interstate-75 this afternoon.

It's all part of the Georgia Department of Transportation's $834 million managed lanes project, which will add nearly 30 miles of toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties.

The lanes will head into metro Atlanta during morning rush and they'll be reversed northbound in the afternoon and evening.

The new 30-mile expressway under construction in Cobb County will cost $800 million.

And commuters will be chipping in.    

People who drive on the Northwest Corridor can expect to pay a flat fee of 50 cents to use the Northwest Corridor.

That's the 30-mile reversible toll expressway on I-75 and I-575.

State officials say the cost could rise to 35 cents per mile during heavy traffic times.

Todd Stone / Associated Press

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Jim Burress / WABE

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation is beginning to add lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.

It's the latest in an effort to add toll lanes to the busiest interstates in metro Atlanta.

GDOT is adding 10 more miles of toll lanes northbound and southbound between Old Peachtree and Hamilton Mill roads on Interstate 85. It would be an extension of the 16 miles of toll lanes on I-85 that stretch from Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County up to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

Cumberland Community Improvement District Board chairman Tad Leithead said a ramp at the first entry point to reversible tolls on I-75 is at Aker Mills, but there is no direct access. A ramp would address major traffic and safety concerns for the area.
GDOT

A highway ramp at Akers Mill Road in Cobb County, Georgia, may cost more than five times the original estimate.

A ramp near the new Atlanta Braves stadium would provide direct access to reversible toll lanes being built along Interstate 75. The toll lanes would go southbound in the mornings and northbound in the afternoon.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Advocates for pedestrian safety are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation on a statewide action plan, and they're asking people to share their walking habits in an online survey.

The Atlanta nonprofit group PEDS will use the survey results, along with data on crashes, injuries and fatalities to learn where the biggest problems are and what changes people would like in their areas, said PEDS pedestrian safety program manager Kemberli Sargent.    

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

State officials have given Atlanta more time to submit plans to address the city's streetcar problems.

The Georgia Department of Transportation on Wednesday gave Atlanta an extra two weeks to correct the streetcar problems and with the threat of shutting it down, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In a letter, the GDOT gave the city and MARTA until June 28 to comply with its request regarding a slew of problems uncovered in recent audits.

Atlanta Streetcar near Centennial Park April 2015
Alison Guillory / WABE

The city of Atlanta submitted a partial corrective action plan (CAP) for the Atlanta Streetcar Tuesday, but asked for a four-week extension to complete the plan.

The Georgia Department of Transportation threatened to shut down the streetcar if it didn't get the plan Tuesday.

AP File

Georgia will have one of its heaviest construction seasons this summer, according to state transportation officials.

“This summer there will be over 470 construction projects and maintenance projects going on statewide,” said Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.

semi trucks
David Tulis / Associated Press

Georgia's Department of Transportation is considering spending $2 billion to build dedicated lanes for trucks to travel 40 miles between the Atlanta area and Macon.

Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Association said the truck-only highway, with separated lanes from general traffic, would be the first project of its kind in the country. 

The two lanes would be set off by a barrier on Interstate 75 between McDonough in Henry County and Macon.

Roth said there's a real need for dedicated travel lanes for trucks.

Alison Guillory / WABE

On the shoulder lanes of the Georgia interstates, it’s hard to miss the bright yellow-and-orange trucks patrolling the highways and helping stranded motorists.

They’re part of the Georgia Department of Transportation's Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) unit.

But HERO assistant manager Andre Todd said many people confuse them for State Farm insurance trucks.

“They see State Farm, they say, ‘Well, you know what, I don’t have State Farm insurance, but I sure do appreciate it.’ We’re not State Farm, we’re GDOT,” Todd said.  

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