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Headed to Atlanta? I-85 bridge that collapsed in fire set to reopen

Smoke billows from a section of an overpass that collapsed from a large fire on Interstate 85 in Atlanta on March 30. The bridge is set to reopen on Monday morning, May 15, 2017.
Smoke billows from a section of an overpass that collapsed from a large fire on Interstate 85 in Atlanta on March 30. The bridge is set to reopen on Monday morning, May 15, 2017. AP

Good news for Charlotte drivers headed to Atlanta: An Interstate 85 bridge that collapsed in a fire on March 30 is set to reopen next week.

Gov. Nathan Deal@GovernorDeal announced Wednesday that the bridge will be open by Monday morning’s rush hour.

“I am pleasantly surprised by the short time frame, and we all should be,” Deal said, according to the Associated Press. “It is a testament to the dedication of a lot of people.”

The closing worsened already notorious Atlanta gridlock. Highway officials urged employers to allow employees to work from home or change their schedules, as crews worked 24-7 on the bridge, the AP reported.

The rebuild cost $16.6 million. Officials initially estimated the stretch would open by mid-June, but offered a $3.1 million incentive to contractor C.W. Matthews to finish early, Natalie Dale, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation@GDOTATL told the AP.

A homeless man, Basil Eleby, is accused of setting a fire beneath the bridge, which ignited fiber-optic cables on wooden spools being stored there. He was charged with arson and criminal damage to property.

His lawyers have said he is being used as a scapegoat to divert attention from the material stored under the bridge by the Department of Transportation, according to the AP.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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