April 1, 2017 Atlanta - Motorists use the Buford-Spring Connector to bypass the interstate collapse and then return to I-85 North on Saturday, April, 2017. After the collapse, people traveling northbound on the Downtown Connector were funneled onto I-75 North, with no option to take I-85 North at the split. About 10 a.m., however, transportation officials began allowing northbound traffic on the Connector to proceed north on I-85 to the next exit: the Buford-Spring Connector, Exit 86 (Ga. 13). HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

Northbound? How to bypass the bridge collapse and return to I-85

The state on Saturday reopened an exit off I-85 North that offers drivers a way around the stretch of interstate that collapsed during Thursday evening’s fire.

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After the collapse, people who were traveling north on the Downtown Connector (I-75/85) were funneled onto I-75 North when the Connector splits. The I-85 North fork was closed. 

About 10 a.m. Saturday, however, the Georgia Department of Transportation reopened the Buford Highway exit (also known as Exit 86, the Buford-Spring Connector, and Ga. 13). That’s the first exit on I-85 north of the Downtown Connector split. 

You may now go north on I-85 from downtown, but you’ll be forced to exit at the Buford-Spring Connector. You can then follow that connector north toward Sidney Marcus Boulevard, where you’ll be directed to the entrance to I-85 North, and you’re back in business. 

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Not exactly a piece of cake, given the traffic that often congests Sidney Marcus. But the slowest part of the the Buford-Spring Connector (northbound) on Saturday afternoon was at the site of the collapse, where drivers were braking to gawk or take pictures. You can get annoyed and honk your horn to hurry people along, but chances are you’ll want to gawk, too, once you get to that point. A collapsed interstate viaduct is not something you see every day.

One note: If you’re going up the Buford-Spring Connector with the intention of turning left onto Sidney Marcus (toward Ga. 400 and Piedmont), you’re in for a wait. Traffic coming down Buford Highway from the opposite direction is being diverted onto Sidney Marcus — Buford Highway beyond that point is closed — and Saturday afternoon it seemed like an endless stream.

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Clarification: An earlier version of this article said the driver had to take Buford Highway all the way up to North Druid Hills Road before returning to I-85 North. But there is an entrance near Sidney Marcus Boulevard, well before North Druid Hills.

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