Atlanta and the Collapsed Interstate

MARTA train car

Blue MARTA Car

The last week of March and the first week or two of April proved to Atlanta that it was not immune to disasters. On March 30th, sections of the I-85 bridge north of the city collapsed because of intense fire underneath it. Three sections of the northbound side had to be removed along with two sections of the southbound side. This section of the interstate was not accessible until this past weekend, May 13-14.

For the most part, the collapse caused interruption to traffic. There were businesses that claimed some loss of revenue. These businesses are located in the general area of the collapse and can be a pain to reach with all the rerouted traffic. It’s understandable.

In my world, things have changed but not so much that I couldn’t operate from day to day. I still work in Alpharetta, GA but now live near Turner Field in downtown Atlanta….the two, of course, being 30 miles apart and on either side of the collapse.

I was at work when it happened. My coworker sends me a message saying, “There’s a fire at Piedmont and 85.” It being Atlanta, I shrugged and carried on with what I was doing. The next message she sent said, “I-85 has collapsed. You need to find another way home!”

The only thing I could think to do was to check out where I saw black smoke filling the area around Piedmont and I-85 along with fire trucks on all sides trying to stop the fire from spreading. One would have thought Sherman had risen and set Atlanta afire again. I called to make sure someone was OK because he lives beside the affected area. After that, I came up with my plan to make it home in all the havoc taking place. It’s bad enough in this city when a raindrop falls or people see a snowflake much less when they have to take a different route than they’re accustomed.

I left Alpharetta and headed east toward the area I lived in prior to moving. Traffic didn’t seem affected at all. I stopped for a bite and quickly decided to take my food elsewhere as the place was having a child’s birthday party. Screaming kids at the moment was not needed or wanted. The adults looked clueless as to what was happening in their state capital or in the nearest city. To be honest, those people probably weren’t worried in the slightest what was going on in Atlanta. It could burn again and they wouldn’t care as long as their supposed perfect  suburban lives weren’t interrupted.

I decided work my way over to Lawrenceville Hwy to go south into the city. I figured people wouldn’t think too much about it since schools were out the following week for Spring Break and it was around 8pm. I had no problems getting back to the city.

If you’ve never been to Atlanta, you have to understand that it is a large city. It’s the largest city in the southeast… land and population taken into account. The metropolitan area is home to over five million people and hosts the busiest international airport in the world. It is also spread out. Cars are a necessity here. It’s not a friendly bike city, but thankfully, things are changing as people are coming to the understanding that too many cars can cause issues. Our public transportation isn’t modern to compliment the growth of the city. I have to state that I’m very happy that MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Region Transit Authority) was able to adjust to serve the number of people affected by the collapse.

The interstate is back to normal and people have decided to either go back to their horrific commutes or to continue to use MARTA. I, for one, have chosen to continue riding MARTA as it picks me up down the street from home and puts me out at my office building. Since the collapse, by using public transportation, I’ve prevented putting over 1,000 miles on my car and I’ve saved nearly $300 by not having to buy gas. After seeing such change to my bank account and saving wear to my car, how could I consciously decide to start driving so much again?

While I’m able to get up each morning and make my way to a bus stop or a train station, I’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of public transportation and let everyone who chooses to drive, alone or in carpools, sit in traffic while I shoot by overhead on the train.

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