The Georgia Department of Transportation's HERO units roam metro Atlanta highways, assisting motorists, clearing road debris and lending a hand at accident scenes. JOHN SPINK/AJC

Georgia DOT may move HERO units stored under I-85 in light of bridge collapse

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday, federal investigators have found that the Georgia Department of Transportation is partly responsible for the fire that destroyed a section of I-85 in Atlanta last spring. 

The fire was allegedly started by a homeless man but spread quickly to construction material GDOT had stored under the bridge for years. The National Transportation Safety Board report released Wednesday said the “large amount of combustible material being stored underneath this section of the I-85 bridge increased the fire risk to the bridge” and contributed to the bridge collapse. 

GDOT says it no longer stores construction material under Georgia bridges. But the agency still houses its HERO road assistance units under I-85 near the site of the collapse. 

GDOT's HERO unit headquarters, shown here in a 2016 shot, is located on Plasters Avenue NE in Atlanta. It's underneath the raised span of I-85 near the site of the March 2017 bridge collapse due to fire.
Photo: Google Street View

But perhaps not for much longer. GDOT may relocate its HERO units in light of the I-85 fire, the NTSB reported. 

The HERO units roam metro Atlanta highways to assist stranded motorists, clear debris and lend a hand at accident scenes. GDOT parks the vehicles under I-85. Supervisors also have offices under the highway, and employees meet there for shift changes and safety meetings. 

According to the NTSB report, the State Fire Marshal’s Office inspected the HERO facility under I-85 after the bridge collapsed and found the facility complies with all state requirements. 

But GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale told the AJC Wednesday the agency is considering other locations for the HERO vehicles. She said there is no specific time frame for making the decision. 

You can read more about the NTSB report here.

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