The Unexpected Collapse of I-85

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On Mar. 30, 2017 a fire broke out underneath a bridge on I-85 in Atlanta.  As news broke out about the incident, there was sudden panic within Atlanta. This affected many people that work at Wesleyan, as well as students that attend Wesleyan. Assistant Dean of students Mary Stephenson said, “Going home now has been awful, it used to take me about 30 minutes, now it’s easily an hour”.

The incident shines light on the United States dependency on transportation. Civilians depend on cars and the roads to get them to work every day, so when one of those elements is destroyed, there becomes a major problem. Stephenson said, “Absolutely, Atlanta has always been a commuter city and Atlanta was not well planned out from the beginning.” Although MARTA is one solution to this problem, the railways don’t extend to great lengths. Stephenson said, “If we had a more extensive transit system that would help the problem but that’s not even an option, MARTA doesn’t even go to cobb county or anywhere near Wesleyan from the inner city”.

When asked about how the bridge collapse has affected the commute to and from school, sophomore Maegan Baker said, “It now takes me two hours to get home from school, but does not affect my drive to school because I leave earlier.”

Since I-85 is a main highway in Atlanta, which is home to thousands of commuters daily, the state has had to expedite the construction process. According to WSB-TV, the reconstruction of the bridge will be completed by the middle of June, rather than the originally predicted time of six months. Update: After a 3 million dollar bonus the bridge finished reconstruction on May. 13. 

Also, the big question arose as to who started the fire and caused this hysteria. According to Atlanta Journal Constitution, a day after the bridge collapsed three people were arrested. They were accused of setting a chair on fire, which ignited flammable materials that were being stored underneath the bridge. Baker said, “I think they should spend their time trying to figure out a better back up plan instead of spending time pointing fingers.”

Although there is constant heavy traffic flow daily because of the collapse, the problem will soon be fixed. Not only commuters that travel into the city but also commuters that exit the city are both affected. The state of Georgia and the transportation systems were simply just not prepared for this, and hopefully in the future precautions will be set up to avoid another incident like the I-85 bridge collapse.

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