ATLANTA — The Interstate 85 bridge collapse in Atlanta today is likely to have major ramifications on traffic throughout the city for the days and weeks ahead.
“This is not going to be a quick fix,” Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) Director Homer Bryson told WSB-TV during a live broadcast shortly after 8 p.m.
A fire of undetermined origin started beneath the interstate at about 6:15 p.m., WXIA-TV reported. The blaze, which spewed plumes of thick black smoke, caused a section of the interstate to collapse less than an hour later, the station reported.
Fire crews from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport helped Atlanta firefighters extinguish the blaze, WSB-TV reported.
Miraculously, no one was injured in the fire or the collapse.
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It is not immediately clear how long it will take to repair the interstate. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told media it would be “some time” before the interstate is repaired and back and service.
“I would not speculate on it at this point,” Deal told a press gaggle. The governor indicated PVC pipes may have caught fire, leading to the blaze.
Anchors on WSB-TV continuously compared the situation to 2014’s snowpocalypse. If nothing else, both events highlighted the city’s infrastructure shortcomings.
How long the section of Interstate 85 is closed may depend on how much of the bridge has to be replaced.
The obvious problem is now where to divert the 220,000 cars that use this section of road — a major thoroughfare that connects Downtown Atlanta with the northern suburbs — on a daily basis. Many of the city’s roadways in the area, for example, are already crowded.