Day 14 | GDOT offers incentives to re-open I-85 sooner

Day 14: GDOT eyes earlier finish date for I-85

ATLANTA - During the tour of the Interstate 85 construction site with US Sen. David Perdue, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said that with the aggressive round-the-clock construction schedule, GDOT is able to offer contractors incentive bonuses for getting the roadway completed and re-opened ahead of their June 15 schedule.

"For completion on any day on or before May 25, there will be a $1.5 million bonus to the contractor to get the road open. If the contractor is able to beat May 21, there will be a $2 million bonus provided to the contractor, and any day in advance of May 21, would be a $200,000 a day incentive, up to a total of $3.1 million," McMurry said.

"I think you can see from these kinds of incentives and bonuses that we are very serious about getting this roadway back open so that people can get back to their lives, not to have adverse impact to businesses and the economy and people's daily commutes."

The roadway was severely damaged by a fire underneath the pavement on March 30, which forced the closure of the interstate.

FULL COVERAGE | I-85 collapse & reconstruction

"We have committed to a June 15 opening date, and that is a very aggressive schedule, but on encouragement from Gov. Deal, and taking a very proactive approach from a business point of view, I'm proud to announce today the incentives that we have given to beat that very aggressive date," McMurry said.

McMurry gave a status update on the progress of the reconstruction project so far during Wednesday's update.

"The 13 columns have been fully replaced -- the ones that have been damaged have been repaired and replaced. We're now working on the caps or the supports that the beams sit on. And as you'll remember, there were 61 beams that were damaged by the fire that had to be replaced. Twenty of those beams have already been constructed, that have been built by the beam builder. We anticipate taking delivery of those beams next week -- on Monday. That will continue to occur over a week or a week and a half, to take delivery of the beams, so those beams can be put out here, and deck construction can begin after that."

Nearly a quarter of a million vehicles normally travel that segment of I-85 in each direction daily, according to GDOT statistics.

PHOTOS | I-85 bridge reconstruction

"I am satisfied with the progress thus far -- doesn't matter what the conditions are, contractors are out here working very hard to make sure we can have this open as soon as possible," McMurry said.

Perdue said he was very happy with the progress taking place with the construction, and praised the work of the first responders during the fire and collapse on March 30.

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"I want to thank all of the first responders and everyone who got out here very quickly and kept everyone out of the way and protected," Perdue said.

"Behind me is the Piedmont intersection. Because of the first responders and DOT, they were able to avoid any further damage on this segment. Could you imagine if this traffic was not moving? Imagine the number of people that could have been injured if that collapse had happened in this sector right here."

Perdue also heralded the work of the Trump Administration, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who paved the way for $10 million in immediate emergency aid for reconstruction efforts.

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