I-85 bridge collapse | WABE 90.1 FM

I-85 bridge collapse

Lawyers For I-85 Bridge Fire Suspect Claim Alibi At Hearing

Jun 16, 2017
Ada Montgomery / WABE

Lawyers for Basil Eleby, the homeless man accused of setting the fire that led to the I-85 overpass collapse in March, said Friday they have an eyewitness who can give Eleby an alibi. 

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Eleby was indicted in April for arson and criminal damage to property in the first degree. 

On Friday, Eleby had a status hearing, during which his lawyers stated they have a polygraph test, along with a witness, that can prove their client's innocence.

MARTA Ridership Takes A Hit After I-85 Overpass Reopens

May 22, 2017
Alison Guillory / WABE

When the Interstate 85 overpass collapsed in late March, many metro-Atlanta commuters depended on MARTA to get to and from work. MARTA's daily usage numbers surged 11.5 to 12 percent. 

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But now that the overpass has re-opened, how many people are still using public transit? 

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao paid a visit to the newly rebuilt I-85 bridge Thursday.

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Chao joined Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials under the reconstructed interstate overpass in Atlanta for a rededication ceremony.

She praised the completed bridge as an example of local, state and federal agencies collaborating to get something done.

Joy Reddy said her 20 minute commute to SunTrust Bank from Toco Hills became one hour after the bridge collapse. She works from home at least twice a week. She said not having an assigned desk puts lets pressure on being physically present.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

On the evening of March 30, Thomas Crosson was grabbing a slice of pizza at Amalfi Pizza near SunTrust Bank, and watched as large flames rose from a section of the Interstate 85 in Atlanta, causing it to collapse.

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"It was funny to watch everyone gather around the TV. Even the cooks came out from behind the kitchen and all of them had the same expression on their face," Crosson said.

Georgia transportation officials reported no major delays during the first rush hour since a major interstate overpass reopened for traffic after collapsing in a massive fire.

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Authorities said all lanes of Interstate 85 near the heart of Atlanta were reopened over the weekend and available for Monday morning's commute.

The roadway had been shut down since March 30, when a blaze beneath the bridge burned so hot it caused the overpass of steel and concrete to collapse.

David Goldman / Associated Press

A key section of interstate highway through Atlanta has partially reopened, six weeks after a highway bridge collapsed because of a large fire.

 

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Local news media report drivers began using northbound lanes on the repaired section of I-85 about 7 p.m. Friday. The southbound lanes are expected to reopen by Sunday.

 

Alison Guillory / WABE

The Georgia Department of Transportation is returning roads to the way they were before the March 30  Interstate 85 bridge collapse.

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GDOT is closing the Buford Spring Connector southbound at I-85 tonight. That will allow crews to return the on-ramp to I-85 South back to one lane.

Thursday night, GDOT closed a few roads as parts of Buford Highway, Sidney Marcus and Piedmont Circle were returned to their usual configurations.  

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.

David Goldman / Associated Press

There is a light at the end of the tunnel ... regarding the I-85 bridge.

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Gov. Nathan Deal made it official Wednesday: The part of the interstate that  collapsed in a fire in March will reopen Monday, at the latest.

That's about a month ahead of schedule.

Atlanta resident David Rucker says he's not surprised state and local officials made sure fixing the roadway was done as quick as possible.

Closer Look: Ga.'s New Bills; James Comey; And More

May 10, 2017
Al Such / WABE

Wednesday on "Closer Look at Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

I-85 Bridge To Reopen Monday, Gov. Deal Announces

May 10, 2017
Alison Guillory / WABE

The area of Interstate 85 that's been closed since a massive fire caused it to collapse in March is expected to reopen as early as Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal announced at a press conference Wednesday. 

Last week the Georgia Department of Transportation announced they were on track to open before Memorial Day weekend. 

"I am pleasantly surprised by the short time frame and we all should be," Deal said at the conference. "It is a testament to the dedication of a lot of people."

Allison Guillory / WABE

Georgia transportation officials say work to rebuild a section of freeway that collapsed in the heart of Atlanta is nearing completion.

 

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Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry tells WSB-TV that the work to rebuild the collapsed portion of Interstate 85 is about 90 percent complete.

 

Video from WSB-TV showed workers on Tuesday adding lane lines to the rebuilt portion of the freeway.

 

Alison Guillory / WABE

The city of Atlanta's economic development arm is trying to help small businesses struggling from the I-85 bridge collapse.

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But not everyone agrees about what kind of help is needed.

Invest Atlanta has identified about 200 small business affected by the March 30 collapse. Some have seen drops in sales between 20 to 50 percent.

How Have I-85 Repairs Happened So Quickly?

May 8, 2017
David Goldman / Associated Press

Interstate 85 near Piedmont Road is scheduled to reopen at the end of May, far before the original deadline of June 15.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the reduction in timeframe is a result of a series of “best-case scenarios” that pushed construction progress further and faster than the department anticipated.

Allison Guillory / WABE

When Georgia Department of Transportation officials said this week that the repaired bridge on Interstate 85 in Atlanta would be reopened ahead of schedule, they also released a time-lapse video to show how rapidly the project has taken shape.

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The 58-second video released this week shows the round-the-clock work that is expected to be completed by May 26.

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."

Ali Guillory / WABE

State officials have announced that rebuilding the collapsed section of Interstate 85 in Atlanta will cost up to $16.6 million.

 

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Department of Transportation set a June 15 deadline for the completion of the new I-85 bridge, although no official timetable was announced.

 

Dan Raby / WABE

If you live or work near the Interstate 85 bridge under reconstruction right now, Tuesday is the day things are really going to get tough.

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The Georgia Department of Transportation is closing Piedmont Road, just under the bridge, for 24 hours. The road will be closed between 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 and 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 26.

GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said crews need to set the final section of beams on the highway.

Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

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

Susanna Capelouto / WABE

The man accused of starting a fire that caused a section of Interstate 85 in Atlanta to collapse has been released from jail after posting bond.

WSB-TV reports that Basil Eleby was released from Fulton County Jail on Wednesday. Eleby was issued a $10,000 signature bond by a judge during a hearing Tuesday.

The judge told Eleby not to go near the collapsed overpass except with his attorneys.

Eleby faces charges of arson and criminal damage to property. He was jailed March 31, the day after the collapse.

Man Accused In I-85 Overpass Fire Pleads Not Guilty

Apr 18, 2017
Fulton County Jail via AP

Basil Eleby, the homeless man accused of starting the March 30 fire that caused the I-85 overpass to collapse, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Fulton County Court. 

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Eleby was charged with arson and criminal damage to property. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville ordered Eleby's release on a $10,000 signature bond. Eleby will soon move to Michael & Michael Counseling and Consulting LLC, a substance abuse treatment facility.

One of Basil Eleby's four attorneys working pro-bono, Lawrence Zimmerman, spoke at a press conference Friday and said Eleby would plead not guilty.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Attorneys for the homeless man accused of setting the fire that caused the I-85 bridge to collapse last month said he will plead not guilty next week.

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Alison Guillory / WABE

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

Al Such / WABE

At the beginning of 2017, Erika Shields became Atlanta's new police chief.  In her first three months on the job, she has emphasized that preventing violent crime is her priority.  Shields now leads a force where she has spent 22 years -- in jobs from beat patrols, to vice enforcement, to internal affairs, to deputy chief.

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Shields talked about her career, and her priorities, in a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."

Elly Yu / WABE

More and more signs are popping up in neighborhoods near Atlanta's Interstate 85 overpass collapse site that say "No Thru Traffic During I-85 Closure."

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"The neighborhood streets were definitely not designed to accommodate the heavy traffic volume and the weight of some of these vehicles that would normally try to go through those streets," Atlanta's Public Works Commissioner Will Johnson said.

He said neighborhood streets often have children playing in them, which can make it dangerous for cars to rush through them. 

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.

Brad Barket / Invision/AP

 

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

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

President Donald Trump honored 15 officers from the Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta Police and Atlanta Fire Department at the White House Thursday.

Trump praised them for their “amazing bravery” and quick response after a section of the Interstate 85 Bridge collapsed in Atlanta on March 30.

"On that day, Georgia State police and Atlanta police took fast action to get motorists away from danger,” Trump said. “Then our brave fire fighters battled 40-foot flames, which was incredible."

Trump said he stands with Georgia as it works to repair the I-85 bridge.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

The disruption from the Interstate 85 bridge collapse has led many commuters to change their habits. And some say that’s a big opportunity for MARTA.

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On a weekday morning, Pam Porter usually would be sitting in her car.

But on this day, she's sitting on a bench at the Brookhaven MARTA station.

"Since the collapse, I've been taking the MARTA into Midtown," Porter said.

GDOT Offers $3.1M Bonus To Finish Bridge By Late May

Apr 12, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

CW Matthews, the contractor on the Interstate 85 overpass repairs, could earn more than $3 million in bonuses for finishing early. 

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The Georgia Department of Transportation set the completion date for June 15, but said if CW Matthews can finish three weeks earlier, by May 25, it'll get a $1.5 million bonus. If the contractor finishes the work by May 21, it'll get $2 million. And for every day before May 21, it'll get $200,000 for a potential grand total of $3.1 million. 

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