Metro Atlanta transit services resume Wednesday; state opens bridges

6:04 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 Georgia Politics and Government

5:45 p.m. update: Metro Atlanta transit services will resume normal operations Wednesday.

MARTA resumed regular service today. The state’s Xpress bus system, CobbLink and Gwinnett County Transit will resume normal service Wednesday.

Also, the governor’s office says all state bridges in the coastal evacuation zone are have been inspected and are now open.

1:30 p.m. update: MARTA says only seven bus line remain to be cleared: Routes 2, 8, 19, 24, 67, 81 and 178.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Transportation has reduced the number of weather-related road closures statewide from 236 to 92.

11:55 a.m. update: MARTA reports that its rail service is now operating on its normal weekday schedule.

Most bus routes also are operating on or near their regular schedules. But some have been affected by falling trees and power lines that have closed roads.

“Our buses would be affected, just like any car,” MARTA spokesman Erik Burton said Tuesday.

“We are continuously monitoring weather and road conditions,” CEO Keith Parker said. “We are working to phase in Tuesday's bus service so we can safely get our customers to their destinations. Many of our routes are blocked or unsafe for travel. We are asking our customers to bear with us as we work to increase service as roadways reopen."  

Here’s the latest information from MARTA:

*Bus routes currently not in operation, or are experiencing roadway difficulties, include Routes 2, 8, 16, 19, 24, 27, 55, 67, 71, 81, 82, 84, 93, 95, 117, 121, 125, 126, 170, 172, 178, 181 and 183. 

*Bus routes that are currently in operation are Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 15, 21, 30, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 56, 58, 60, 66, 68, 73, 74, 75, 78, 79, 86, 87, 89, 99, 107, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 119, 120, 123, 140, 141, 143, 148, 153, 155, 162, 180, 185/85, 186, 189, 191, 193, 194, 195, 196, 201, 800, 823 and 865. Some routes may experience delays due to mandatory re-routes caused by road conditions. 

*All Clayton County bus routes are clear and in operation.  

*MARTA will provide all current, registered Breeze Card, pass holders with a one-day credit to as reimbursement for Monday’s service suspension.

9:40 am. update: Southbound traffic on I-75 south of Atlanta is twice has heavy as usual as Florida residents seek to return home after Hurricane Irma, the Georgia Department of Transportation says. 

Traffic also is heavy on I-675 heading south out of the metro region. 

But traveling today remains dicey. GDOT says state highways are blocked in 236 locations across the state this morning. More than 1,000 maintenance and construction employees are trying to clear the highways. 

GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said returning home today is a bad idea

“If you’re headed back, you really need to know what you’re headed back to,” Dale said. “A lot of these places in south Georgia and Florida have no power. There are gas shortages. If they get to south Georgia or north Florida and they run out of gas, there’s a good chance they will not be able to get gas. 

“If they can wait one more day, they’re going to be headed back to a much safer area,” she said. 

Dale said GDOT has relocated 20 roadside assistance units to I-75 between Atlanta and the Florida line. It now has enough to position trucks about every 10 miles. 

“But if you run out of gas, we can only give you so much gas to get to the next exit, and there may not be gas there,” Dale said. 

GDOT also is inspecting 170 bridges – mostly in the coastal and southern parts of the state. Four bridges are closed – three of them in Chatham County on the coast.

8:03 a.m. update: Southbound traffic on I-75 south of Atlanta is beginning to back up - an indication that some Florida residents who evacuated to Georgia during Hurricane Irma may be headed home.

Southbound traffic is averaging less than 30 m.p.h. on I-75 between Eagles Landing Parkway and McDonough Road Tuesday morning.

Southbound traffic is also backing up heading into Macon and near Perry.

Georgia officials have warned Florida residents not to leave too soon - they may find themselves on stretches of I-75 without gas and returning to areas without power.

Hardly. Hundreds of thousands are still without power. Crews are removing downed trees that fell on roads across Georgia. Florida evacuees may be trying to return to the Sunshine State prematurely. And metro Atlanta’s public transportation system still isn’t running at full speed.

Here’s a look at news that will affect this morning’s commute.

MARTA resumed limited service at 7 a.m. Rail service will initially run at approximate 20-minute intervals and scale up to full service by noon.

MARTA bus routes connected to hospitals, shelters and social service facilities will open first. The agency will gradually open other routes over the course of the morning, beginning with its most heavily-used lines.

Paratransit service has resumed normal operations.

The State Road and Tollway Authority will not operate its Xpress bus service today.

CobbLinc has suspended all bus services Tuesday.

Gwinnett County Transit has canceled express bus service; its local routes and paratransit will resume at 10 a.m.

The private ride-hailing service Uber also resumed service today.

With many local schools out today, those who have to drive may see a relatively light commute. But it’s still rainy and windy this morning. And the Georgia Department of Transportation has been busy clearing trees from state highways and interstates.

“We are finding more and more down trees with daylight,” GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said. “If someone comes upon a down tree call to report to 511. We encourage people to stay off the roads while our crews work to clear lanes that are impassable.”

Many local communities also are reporting road closures. Sandy Springs, for example, reported 33 roads closed because of downed trees and power lines.

State officials also are concerned that some people who evacuated from Florida may be returning too soon. Many gas stations along I-75 in Florida are out of fuel, and people may be returning to places without power. Georgia officials have urged Floridians to stay put until officials in both states say it’s safe to go home.

You can find updates on Cobb County road closings here.

You can find an updated list of DeKalb County road closings here.

You can find an updated list of Gwinnett County road closings here.

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