Video Update: I-85 Bridge Reconstruction in Atlanta

April 7, 2017

The section of I-85 in Atlanta that collapsed last week due to a fire under a bridge overpass should be up and running just 10 weeks after the incident happened.

C.W. Mathews Contracting Company, based in Marietta, Georgia, has been selected by Georgia DOT to lead the I-85 bridge rebuilding effort, based on the contractor's availability, resources and previous experience providing a similar response to a tanker fire that damaged I-285 over SR 400 in 2001.

Meg Pirkle, GDOT chief engineer, explained the bridge replacement plans:

"The original bridge design used a different beam type and shape than the standard beams that we use now. We could have rebuilt this original design, but the time for beam fabrication of these non-standard beams would have been lengthy. The State Bridge Engineer determined that redesigning the bridges using existing span lengths and beam types commonly used today would allow the construction to begin and progress quickly and efficiently."

Pirkle said the bridge redesign, done over an awe inspiring 3-day weekend, include retrofitting existing, salvageable cement columns by cutting them about nine feet below the original caps, peeling off all of the old concrete cover material, and building new columns around the existing steel.

Director of Construction, Marc Mastronardi, P.E., said, "We have included techniques to speed up the completion. For example, prefabricated steel diaphragms; employing accelerated concrete mix designs that utilize 24-hour strength development; addressing permitting needs to be able to haul beams 24 hours/day, as opposed to overnight only. You can expect to see beams arriving mid-month and all beams arriving by month’s end."

Dan Garcia, president of C.W. Matthews, said the target date of June 15 is achievable.

The expedited reopening was made possible by Gov. Nathan Deal's declaration of emergency and subsequent streamlining of the usual Federal Highway Administration process for interstate highway projects. GDOT officials said at a press conference Tuesday it will also forego an environmental review and bypass its normal procurement processes.

Basil Eleby, 39, is charged with arson in the blaze which authorities say was fueled by construction materials stored under the bridge from a past project by a now defunct contractor.

GDOT's State Construction Liaison Jeremy Daniel gives an update about the demolition and reconstruction of I-85 at Piedmont Road.