I-85 Collapse, Day 4 | Monday morning rush hour looming large

11Alive is navigating through the traffic and speaking with experts to see what's being done to make it better.

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Transportation is reconfiguring several I-85 northbound lanes near the Peachtree Road overpass to handle weekday rush hour traffic in the wake of the bridge collapse.

GDOT also said it is following “an aggressive schedule” to replace the bridge while also adding that other work is being done to alleviate traffic along surface streets.

► More: GDOT provides tips for travel ahead of Atlanta's Monday traffic

“Demolition work has begun and will continue through early next week,” GDOT officials said. “Once demolition is completed, a more exact timeline for expected completion can be estimated.”

But until that happens, those living in apartments near the collapse say the demolition noise is beginning to cause real headaches.  As crews work with backhoes, trucks and sledge hammers to clean up the leftover mess, even residents on the other side of the complex are having a tough time acclimating.

Unfortunately, that noise will continue through the demolition process - and likely through construction.

More: Noise from I-85 bridge repair jarring neighbors

The northbound lanes of I-85 beginning near the Peachtree Road overpass have been reconfigured to allow for two travel lanes to continue northbound up to the Buford-Spring Connector for local traffic only.

At that point, all local traffic is being routed to the Buford-Spring Connector where vehicles travel through and return to I-85 north near Sidney Marcus Boulevard.

“This reconfiguration work includes the placement of concrete barrier as well as re-striping of the lanes,” the DOT said. “Vehicles passing through metro Atlanta should still plan to utilize I-285 as the most efficient route of travel.”

GDOT officials said the new configurations will be ready for the Monday morning commute, and will remain in place for the near future. It has also published the below map as a guide for commuters whose travel plans are impacted by the bridge's collapse.

It turns out, however, that motorists aren't the only ones feeling the strain of blocked roads. 11Alive spoke with those who decided to take to the streets on foot. Some were doing it to avoid the traffic and others were just following their normal routines.

But many found themselves out of luck and having to walk much further without any marked detours for those on foot.

► More: I-85 collapse leading to road blocks for pedestrians, too

In other developments over the weekend:

MARTA Chief of Staff Rukiya Thomas appeared on 11Alive with anchor Jennifer Bellamy on Sunday, and said her transit agency is more than ready to handle more riders in the wake of the bridge collapse.

Also appearing on 11Alive on Sunday morning was Kevin Green, president and CEO of the Midtown Alliance, outlining his organization's transportation assistance options.

► Related: Man allegedly behind I-85 collapse described as quiet, helpful

Basil Elbey, suspected of starting the fire which caused the fire under the bridge, has been charged with arson and criminal damage to property in the first degree, both felonies. He made his first court appearance on Saturday morning.

According to his arrest warrant, Eleby allegedly smoked crack cocaine under the bridge before he placed “a chair on top of a shopping cart, [reached] under that shopping cart and ignited it.”

Fulton jail records show Eleby had been arrested 19 times before for drug, battery, assault and other charges. An April 2014 mugshot shows Eleby after he was arrested for charges related to the sale and trafficking of cocaine.

► Photos: Meet the suspect in the I-85 bridge fire

Locals say they are surprised to find out that Eleby is believed to be behind the fire and eventual collapse of I-85 saying he was quiet and helped out at various businesses. Workers from two liquor stores said that he would come by to do odd jobs and wash windows.


► Related: Traffic jams on side roads killing local businesses

Over the weekend, Cheshire Bridge Road appeared to be most heavily trafficked surface street nearest the fire. 11Alive reporters and commuters reported gridlock-like conditions as early as 9 am.

There were many at local businesses who are already feeling the sting of gridlock as they try to deliver meals and pull customers into their shops and restaurants.  Unfortunately, local owners report that the threat of unusually heavy traffic is staving off even seasoned Atlantans from roads that have become main routes almost overnight like Cheshire Bridge.

► Video: Click here to see the collapse.

► List: Here a list of alternate routes

► Also: These roads are closed due to I-85 collapse

► Guide: How do I get around on MARTA?

Officials say 700 feet of the I-85 northbound and southbound lanes will have to be rebuilt. Local officials confirmed that $10 million in federal funds have been released to help pay for the repair and reconstruction of I-85 damaged by the collapse.

► Photos: 11Alive viewers capture I-85 fire

11Alive is committed to getting you the information you need to get about the I-85 collapse safely. We're sharing an ever-changing list of closed roads. We have the city's most experienced television traffic reporter. We have a network of hundreds of traffic cameras and live interactive maps.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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