The newly-built Interstate 85 bridge will reopen to traffic before rush hour Monday morning. Gov. Deal made the announcement from the state capitol Wednesday morning.
Deal said the bridge could open even sooner than that if the final touches are completed sooner than expected. The weekend's rain chances could determine when if the bridge opens before Monday.
In Deals' announcement, he thanked the construction crews, commuters, first responders and news outlets for their role in getting through this. If the bridge opens on Monday, that will mark nearly seven weeks of the state's busiest interstate being closed in a critical traffic area.
Construction is in its final stages. Crews were striping and painting markers on the road Tuesday.
The section of the bridge over Piedmont Road collapsed on March 30 after a massive fire erupted.
Photos | The moment I-85 collapsed
PHOTOS: The moment I-85 collapsed
Travelers have been eagerly waiting for the bridge to reopen and construction crews have been working 24 hours a day. Contractors were given extra financial incentives to finishing construction as soon as possible.
Here is a breakdown of the potential bonuses if contractor C.W. Matthews completes the construction ahead of schedule:
- Before May 25 | $1.5 million
- May 21 | $2 million
- May 20 | $2.2 million
- May 19 | $2.4 million
- May 18 | $2.6 million
- May 17 | $2.8 million
- May 16 | $3 million
- May 15 | $3.1 million
GDOT said the maximum bonus provided will be $3.1 million. The bridge’s overall repairs total $11.9 million.
In an earlier press conference Commissioner Russell McMurry said these incentives and bonuses show GDOT is serious about people getting "back to their lives."
In order to reopen the interstate as quickly as possible, C.W. Matthews is using a concrete mixture that cures or strengthens quicker.
C.W. Matthews president, Dan Garcia, said that will not impact safety.
“Everything on this is as safe as on any other project if not more.”
Inspectors test the concrete before it's poured.
“We've probably run 150 concrete tests and taken 500 samples,” Daniel said. “That's how we make sure the concrete is satisfactory.”
Photos | Go inside the I-85 bridge reconstruction