ATLANTA - I-85 will return to normal by Monday morning and may re-open this weekend. State officials led by Gov. Nathan Deal made that welcome announcement Wednesday,
State officials used the word “guarantee” to describe their certainty it’ll be back to normal by rush hour Monday morning. "This is a day of celebration," said Gov. Nathan Deal.
A look at I-85 shows that there’s an abundance of new pavement and new road striping on the portion catastrophically damaged by a March 30 fire – giving it the look of a roadway all but ready to re-open.
But despite the celebratory tone at the Capitol, there are key details that will consume workers on the construction site over the next three or more days.
Photos | The moment I-85 collapsed
PHOTOS: The moment I-85 collapsed
Crews still have to install expansion joints among the 61 steel beams supporting the road;
They have to complete concrete side barriers;
Complete electrical work for overhead highway lights;
And clean up after nearly six weeks of nonstop work.
Another key chore will be undoing temporary striping that guided traffic around the site and re-striping those roads to their original configurations.
When the section of I-85 collapsed March 30, the outlook was for a project that would take until mid-June to complete. But good weather speeded up the work. So did financial incentives offered by the state to the contractor. DOT commissioner Russell McMurry says the work has been painstakingly checked for quality with 10 inspectors on site every day.
"It has a lot of inspection. And (we) feel confident all the testing has been done that it is safe and it is a quality project," McMurry said.
State officials say Friday is a wild card with rain in the forecast. If the rain is minimal, they’re hoping to open the northbound lanes sometime Saturday and southbound lanes Sunday.