Bo, a yellow lab featured on an Estes Services billboard alongside I-85 in Buckhead, has become something of an icon.  
Photo: Estes Services
Photo: Estes Services

How one of the best positioned billboards in Atlanta became the worst

The giant face with soulful brown eyes has silently watched over drivers traveling south along I-85 for many years. 

Bo, a yellow lab and the face of Estes Services, has become familiar to countless rush-hour commuters who slow down where traffic starts to bottleneck near the Buford Spring Connector on a twice-daily basis. 

If there’s a sweet spot for billboard placement, that’s got to be it. 

Or at least it was, until the I-85 bridge crumbled down after a massive fire on March 30, effectively eliminating the ad’s prime visibility.  

Owner Tommy Estes said that of the 20 or so billboards his HVAC, plumbing and electrical business has around the city, that location has become iconic. The “very expensive” billboard is larger than most in Atlanta, at 27 by 73 feet, with the cutout of Estes’s dog’s head extending above the top. 

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Positioned at 438 Plaster Ave., the “strategic oversized billboard is touted by Whiteway Outdoor Advertising as one that “offers excellent exposure for commuters using I-85 and Georgia 400 from Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Roswell, Alpharetta and the suburbs of Gwinnett County to Midtown and Downtown.”

Estes is not happy about the situation, but said there’s “really nothing any of us can do.” And the blow was softened some a couple days after the fire, when Whiteway owner Michael Levin called to say he’d suspend the contract for that billboard until the road is reopened. 

“I thought that was a really noble thing to do,” Estes said. “I’ve worked with him for a long time, and he and I both always try to do the right thing.” 

It appears that Whiteway, a comparatively small billboard company, can be added to the list of businesses feeling the economic impact from the I-85 bridge collapse.

The Georgia Department of Transportation expects to reopen I-85 in Buckhead by June 15 – just 11 weeks after the accident. The fire was allegedly set by a homeless man named Basil ElebyHe has been indicted on felony arson and criminal damage to property charges.

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In other news:

Drivers heeded warnings about significant traffic adjustments caused by I-85 fire, bridge collapse.

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