A little-known state program provides cash incentives to companies that quickly clear tractor-trailer wrecks on metro Atlanta interstates.

It's called the Towing and Recovery Incentive Program or TRIP, and it actually started almost a decade ago.

TRIP gives bonuses of $2,500 to qualified heavy-duty towing and recovery companies if they can clear tractor-trailer crashes in less than 90 minutes.

It's the same idea behind the bonus program for the I-85 bridge collapse.

The Georgia Department of Transportation shelled out more than $3-million to the contractors who finished the rebuild project about a month early.

Since 2008, the state DOT has payed out more than $2-million in incentives for 912 TRIP activations.

Before TRIP, the average time it took to a clear commercial truck incident was 216 minutes, according to Natalie Dale, spokeswoman for the Georgia DOT.

The average clear time is now down to 42 minutes with TRIP.

A cost-benefit study done by a private company shows that TRIP saves $11 for every dollar invested.

On average, TRIP saves $456,396 per incident, according to the study.

According to the Georgia DOT, the benefit of the first two years of the TRIP program was calculated at $9,154,431 of avoided delay, wasted fuel and excess emissions.

The program does not apply to deadly accidents when it often takes extra time to investigate.

In those cases, it's up to law enforcement to decide when they're ready to open the interstate.