I-85 bridge collapse: How to cope with your Atlanta commute

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I-85 bridge collapse: How to cope with your Atlanta commute

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The Georgia Department of Transportation expects metro Atlanta traffic to jump as much as 20 percent beginning Monday. JOHN SPINK/AJC

So you’re back from spring break, rested and ready for work? There’s just one thing standing between you and a productive return to the workforce: Atlanta traffic, made all the worse by the collapse of I-85 near Piedmont Road.

Last week, traffic was not as bad as it could have been because schools were closed and many families were on vacation. But with the holiday over, the Georgia Department of Transportation expects traffic to increase as much as 20 percent beginning Monday.

Here’s what you need to know about how the I-85 closure will affect your commute – and some ways you can make it a little less miserable.

Driving

I-85 is closed in both directions from I-75 to Ga. 400. The state says it will reopen by June 15. The closure has increased traffic on local streets like Cheshire Bridge Road and Piedmont Road and on the Buford Spring Connector.

State officials have said Buford Spring is for local traffic only, and is not intended to by an I-85 bypass. Some people are making traffic worse on the connector by slowing down to snap photos of the collapsed bridge. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and resist the urge.

In general GDOT advises motorists who would ordinarily take I-85 into Atlanta to use other interstates: I-285, I-75 and I-20. Many folks are doing it, and traffic has increased substantially on those routes.

The bottom line: Give yourself extra time to get to work. And pack your patience. You’re going to need it.

MARTA

MARTA trains are running more frequently to accommodate more passengers. Extra employees are on hand to assist passengers.

One problem: Because of increased ridership, MARTA stations have been running out of parking early. To address the problem, MARTA launched a real-time parking tracker and added 1,200 parking spots.

For more information, visit www.itsmarta.com.

Other transit

The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority has rerouted some of its express buses because of the I-85 closure, and passengers should expect delays.

GRTA also is running additional coaches from the Hamilton Mill and Sugarloaf Mills Park-and-Rides directly to the Doraville MARTA station for those customers who prefer to use MARTA – which the agency encourages.

For more information, visit www.xpressga.com.

All Atlanta-bound Gwinnett County Transit Express bus routes originating from the county are operating via I-85 to I-285 to I-20. Return routes to Gwinnett will run in the opposite direction.

Gwinnett also has added bus routes directly to MARTA stations.

For more information, visit www.gwinnettcounty.com.

Cobb County Transit routes are not affected by the I-85 closure, but the county has added extra buses to ensure it can accommodate passengers. For more information, visit www.cobbcounty.org.

Other options

Uber is offering discounts on its UberPOOL ride-sharing service to or from MARTA stations throughout the month of April.

Finally, consider working from home. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has urged businesses to allow their employees to telecommute.

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