I-85 to reopen by June 15, officials say

Georgia Department of Transportation officials Tuesday said they expect to reopen I-85 in Buckhead by June 15.

GDOT is using contracting incentives and other means to expedite reconstruction of one of the main highways into the heart of Atlanta, officials said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

The state fire marshal and insurance commissioner are also being asked to review the practice of storing materials under bridges. The fire that brought down a section of I-85 ignited construction surplus material stashed under the elevated section of the interstate.

Basil Eleby, 39, is charged with arson in the blaze. Authorities allege that he and two companions were there last Thursday, talking about smoking crack, shortly before the fire began beneath the bridge

The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the collapse.

C.W. Matthews will lead the repair effort. The state eschewed the normal competitive bidding process to expedite the work. The Marietta-based company has done other road work for the state.

“We’re in coordination with GDOT and the June 15 date is achievable,” Dan Garcia, president of C.W. Matthews, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

Garcia said the company will work this project “24/7 with multiple crews.” Some 30 to 40 workers will be on site each shift.

Demolition at the site will be completed by the end of this week, he said. Crews will then remove the debris and begin erecting columns and the caps that sit atop them.

The beams, which stretch across the roadway, must be manufactured.

While about 250 feet of bridge was destroyed, the contractor will have to replace 700 feet to make the bridge safe again. He said they will be replacing a total of six spans there. A span is the stretch of roadway between two columns.

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