Basil Eleby (center), the homeless man accused of setting the fire that brought down a chunk of Interstate 85, was expected to be released on bond after pleading not guilty to arson and criminal trespass charges in court Tuesday morning. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Why did the homeless man accused of burning I-85 almost have his bond revoked?

Basil Eleby, the once-homeless man accused of setting the fire that brought down a section of Interstate 85, has been placed in a more restrictive treatment program after he tested positive for drugs.

Eleby was in court Thursday after Fulton County Superior Court Pre-Trial Services asked that his bond be revoked. He had tested positive during a routine drug test on Sept. 6.

Judge Constance Russell ordered another drug test, which was conducted while she waited. It came back negative for drugs so she allowed him to remain free on bond as long as he went into a program that placed him under additional restrictions.

Authorities say Eleby set fire to a shopping cart under the highway last spring. The blaze eventually caused a chunk of the busy interstate to collapse after it spread to construction material the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the bridge.

Georgia transportation planners have finished a revolutionary construction project unlike any in the nation. And it has nothing to do with the I-85 collapse.

Eleby was charged with arson. He is scheduled to be in court for an update on the status of his case in November.

The collapse caused major traffic headaches in metro-Atlanta until the highway reopened six weeks later, ahead of schedule.

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