An I-285 collapse could be devastating to Atlanta industry, experts say

Is $10 million enough to fix I-85 collapse

ATLANTA, Ga – If you think last week’s I-85’s bridge collapse is bad, imagine what things would be like if it happened on I-285.

“The perimeter is a lot more important to the city’s industrial and distribution network than this stretch of I-85,” said Brian Reed, southeast regional manager for the CBRE Group, the world’s largest real estate investment manager. “That’s not to say I-85 isn’t important, but the situation could have been worse for our industrial sector.”

The Los Angeles-based commercial real estate company recently examined the impact of last week’s interstate bridge collapse on Atlanta’s industrial distribution network.

Reed said trucking companies usually use I-285 to avoid the downtown connector. “It’s true that traffic on the perimeter is much worse than it was a week ago, but a failure on I-85 isn’t as crippling to the industrial sector as a failure of I-285.”

Atlanta is home to one of the nation’s largest industrial submarkets, and all of them are located outside the perimeter, said CBRE's Americas senior research analyst Travis Deese. “If this had happened on I-285, we’d be looking at 18-wheelers crowding the I-75/85 corridor. Unfortunately for I-285 commuters, though, they’re having to share the road with more trucks.”

According to a study completed by INRIX, a transportation consulting firm, Atlanta has the nation’s 4th-worst traffic, with commuters losing more than 70 hours a year to congestion.

“Atlanta has a reputation of being a place when you get stuck in traffic,” Reed said. “The bridge collapse could really increase that reputation.”

MARTA, according to Deese, stands to be the big winner from all of this.

RELATED: As roadways crawl, MARTA lots fill up

“MARTA has already seen an increase in ridership, and some parking lots are being reported as full,” he said. “Overall, we’re seeing proof that MARTA can handle the ridership increase. Hopefully, more local governments and users will buy into the concept of public transit in Atlanta.”

PHOTOS: Under the bridge aftermath

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