Price tag for new I-85 bridge: Up to $16.6 million

Rebuilding a collapsed section of I-85 in Atlanta will cost taxpayers up to $16.6 million, state officials said Tuesday.

And though the Georgia Department of Transportation officials have not announced a new timetable for completing the project, they say construction is going so it's likely be done before the official June 15 completion date.

“June 15 is the latest this bridge gets completed,” GDOT construction director Marc Mastronardi said at a press conference Tuesday.

Tuesday’s announcements provided more clarity to a project that has beguiled metro Atlanta commuters since one of their main highways into the city went up in flames March 30.

Basil Eleby, a homeless man, has been accused of setting the fire that caused the northbound lanes near Piedmont Road to collapse and irreparably damaged the southbound lanes. Others say GDOT itself – which stored construction material that fueled the blaze – is also responsible for the highway's closure.

Mastronardi said the $16.6 million is the maximum the bridge will cost, and the federal government is expected to pay 90 percent.

He said construction of the new bridge will cost about $11.9 million, while demolition of the old one cost $1.6 million. The estimate also includes incentives of up to $3.1 million for contractor C.W. Matthews to complete the work before June 15.

For the contractor to get the full incentive, the work would have to be done by mid-May.

Mastronardi said it’s hard to say how far in advance of June 15 the work is likely to be done.