The bridge caught fire and collapsed March 30. A homeless man, Basil Eleby, has been charged with setting the fire, which spread to construction materials that the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the highway.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the safety of storing materials under highways.
Contractor C.W. Matthews worked around the clock to complete the reconstruction of the bridge. GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry announced Thursday the company will received the full $3.1 million in incentives it was offered to finish early.
Chao's Transportation Department will pay 90 percent of the $16.6 million construction cost of the new bridge, including the incentives. Georgia also will ask the federal government to pay millions of dollars in other costs related to the bridge collapse, including additional mass transit service and traffic control.
Chao, Deal and others praised the contractor, GDOT and other agencies that contributed to the quick completion of the project. Chao called the effort “a marvel of dedication.”
Officials also praised Atlanta firefighters and police officers and state troopers for their quick work the night of the fire, which prevented deaths and injuries.
Deal thanked Chao for her quick response following the fire. Within hours her department had provided $10 million in emergency funds to get the I-85 reconstruction started.
“In less than 24 hours — in fact, the next morning — she was calling me, saying, `we want to help,’” Deal said.