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Author Topic: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta  (Read 4319 times)

froggie

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I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« on: March 30, 2017, 07:16:06 PM »

Seeing reports on Twitter that an I-85 overpass northeast of downtown Atlanta has collapsed due to a fire.  One report mentioned it's near Piedmont Rd.  Another traffic cam screen capture confirms that.


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RoadWarrior56

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2017, 07:23:22 PM »

I live in Gwinnett County and I just heard about it.  It is going to be a mess around here.  BTW, the new Braves stadium opens tomorrow night in Cobb County.  The extra traffic on I-285 and I-75 is going to make it an interesting evening.
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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2017, 07:44:34 PM »

First, how often does it happen that a bridge starts on fire? I would have assumed them to be essentially fireproof.

Also, just for posterity, here is my evidence that I am glad to not be in Atlanta at the moment. There's a lot of very dark red in this picture:

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lordsutch

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2017, 07:49:19 PM »

Usually what happens is something under the bridge catches on fire, which weakens the rebar in the concrete or the steel girders, which leads to the collapse.

Cutting off both I-85 and GA 400 from downtown is going to create a mess for a while. The old I-85 alignment (GA 13) will be able to relieve some of the traffic but nowhere near enough. The lack of redundancy due to the absence of I-475 and I-420 is going to bite the city in the ass for the next month or two until a replacement can be put in service.
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Eth

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2017, 07:59:35 PM »

The old I-85 alignment (GA 13) will be able to relieve some of the traffic but nowhere near enough.

That assumes it even remains open. Based on what I've seen, I wouldn't be shocked if at least the southbound lanes of GA 13 are shut down for at least a couple days as well.

The loss of this segment of I-85 essentially severs the link between downtown and the north and northeast suburbs. I-75 toward Cobb County is going to be so overloaded as to be effectively unusable. Anywhere north of I-20 will be a nightmare for probably the next two months. Today I have a new reason to be thankful that I can take MARTA to work.
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silverback1065

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2017, 10:20:45 PM »

First, how often does it happen that a bridge starts on fire? I would have assumed them to be essentially fireproof.

Also, just for posterity, here is my evidence that I am glad to not be in Atlanta at the moment. There's a lot of very dark red in this picture:



not unusual for a fire to damage a bridge, probably a semi crash, but it looks like it's something flammable that caught fire.  could it be arson? 
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 10:25:02 PM by silverback1065 »
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Kniwt

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2017, 11:12:01 PM »

it looks like it's something flammable that caught fire.

http://www.ajc.com/news/traffic/breaking-deal-declares-state-emergency-after-bridge-collapse/FRzANVZ9vgyWW2WZfyN6jI/
Quote
... the cause of the fire is not yet known but “the speculation I’ve heard is that there are some PVC products that caught fire.” Witness James Shilkett was driving by the fire around 6:15 p.m. when he said he saw PVC piping on fire.

The PVC pipes were stored under the freeway and are visible in Street View:
https://goo.gl/maps/pVqSKzan51T2
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 11:18:08 PM by Kniwt »
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kalvado

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2017, 11:30:29 PM »



The PVC pipes were stored under the freeway and are visible in Street View:
https://goo.gl/maps/pVqSKzan51T2

PVC is not fire proof, but generally fire resistant... Something serious has to happen to make it burn, not just a cigarette butt..
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barcncpt44

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2017, 11:42:41 PM »

Here is a picture of the beginning of the fire.
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ATLRedSoxFan

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2017, 11:54:23 PM »

That was an accident waiting to happen, accidental or arson.I left Atlanta in '09 and that collection of barrels and PVC piping sat there for at least 15 years before that. Glad no one was hurt, and yeah it's deffinetly going to be a mess for a while. It's a miracle nobody was on the bridge when the collapse occurred.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 11:57:04 PM by ATLRedSoxFan »
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Duke87

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2017, 12:07:32 AM »

The old I-85 alignment (GA 13) will be able to relieve some of the traffic but nowhere near enough.

That assumes it even remains open. Based on what I've seen, I wouldn't be shocked if at least the southbound lanes of GA 13 are shut down for at least a couple days as well.

The loss of this segment of I-85 essentially severs the link between downtown and the north and northeast suburbs. I-75 toward Cobb County is going to be so overloaded as to be effectively unusable. Anywhere north of I-20 will be a nightmare for probably the next two months. Today I have a new reason to be thankful that I can take MARTA to work.

Through the weekend things will be a mess. Lots of folks will undoubtedly be taking an unplanned day off work tomorrow.

Beyond that, the saving grace here is that the southbound structure did not collapse. They'll need to inspect it to confirm but if it's in usable condition it can fit three lanes each way with no shoulders. So we'll probably see two way traffic on that side until the collapsed section can be replaced. Still a huge traffic headache, but much better than nothing.
The downside is that there's really no way to preserve northbound access to GA 400 with this setup, so that's shot until the bridge is replaced. Traffic will need to use GA 13 to get there.

Actually, that brings up an idea for what might be an interesting alternative: keep 4 or 5 lanes of SB I-85 on that structure, with only 1 or 2 lanes of NB I-85 on it. These lanes would have an HOV restriction during peak hours. Then, run GA 13 in contraflow mode - northbound traffic on both roadways. At the north end, traffic on the normally northbound roadway would be forced onto the ramp to I-85 north, while traffic on the normally southbound roadway would get shunted over to the northbound roadway here, and given the option to either continue up GA 13 or make the left to get to GA 400. With no through southbound traffic on GA 13, this left turn would be protected for the entire green phase.

In this setup you'd probably also want to close the offramp from GA 13 to Monroe Dr, and then restripe the NB GA 13 roadway so it narrows down to one lane prior to the ramp from I-85 NB. This way said ramp can add the second lane back and not need to merge.




Whatever the case with the roads, MARTA should run as many trains to North Springs and Doraville as they can. Though I don't know how much spare rolling stock they have (I assume the tracks themselves can handle more frequent service than is currently scheduled).
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wriddle082

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2017, 01:15:19 AM »



The PVC pipes were stored under the freeway and are visible in Street View:
https://goo.gl/maps/pVqSKzan51T2

PVC is not fire proof, but generally fire resistant... Something serious has to happen to make it burn, not just a cigarette butt..

That looks more like direct-burial fiber optic riser cable innerduct than just plain old PVC pipe.  This was most likely a staging area for a fiber install along GDOT's ROW.  Either for their own uses or to lease the bandwidth out to someone else.
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freebrickproductions

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2017, 01:16:18 AM »

It's a miracle nobody was on the bridge when the collapse occurred.
Fortunately, the PVC pipes/whatever was under the bridge created some thick, black smoke that was enough to get the lanes above it shut-down before the bridge collapsed. But yea, it was a good thing no-one was on the bridge when it happened.
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Eth

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2017, 08:38:03 AM »


Beyond that, the saving grace here is that the southbound structure did not collapse. They'll need to inspect it to confirm but if it's in usable condition it can fit three lanes each way with no shoulders. So we'll probably see two way traffic on that side until the collapsed section can be replaced. Still a huge traffic headache, but much better than nothing.

GDOT just confirmed in the last half hour or so (per WSB) that the southbound bridge was also compromised, so that option is out.
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Henry

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2017, 09:28:52 AM »

Well, the only thing worse would be if that happened in Los Angeles! It and Atlanta are easily the two worst places to get stuck in traffic, and I once lived in the former city from 1994 1988-2000. I-75, I-20 and I-285 will be an even bigger mess because of the severed connection in I-85.

EDIT: I actually moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1988 due to attending UCLA, and became a permanent resident in 1992, but I do remember the 1994 earthquake well.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 11:15:10 AM by Henry »
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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2017, 09:41:31 AM »

I-85 carries 222,000 vehicles per day at that location. In addition, GA-13 carries another 71,000, bringing the total detour traffic to almost 300,000 vehicles per day. That's huge.

How are they going to detour that kind of traffic? For example the ramp at I-75 north to I-285 east is only a single lane. I-20 east to I-285 north is also only a single lane. I can understand why they call this a transportation crisis.

silverback1065

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2017, 10:06:28 AM »

will SR 13 be open? there's really nothing good about the detour, you could use surface streets, but most everyone will use the interstates in the area. this will be a mess for a while!
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Alex

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2017, 10:52:20 AM »

will SR 13 be open? there's really nothing good about the detour, you could use surface streets, but most everyone will use the interstates in the area. this will be a mess for a while!

Georgia 13 is also closed in both directions.

Actually, that brings up an idea for what might be an interesting alternative: keep 4 or 5 lanes of SB I-85 on that structure, with only 1 or 2 lanes of NB I-85 on it. These lanes would have an HOV restriction during peak hours. Then, run GA 13 in contraflow mode - northbound traffic on both roadways. At the north end, traffic on the normally northbound roadway would be forced onto the ramp to I-85 north, while traffic on the normally southbound roadway would get shunted over to the northbound roadway here, and given the option to either continue up GA 13 or make the left to get to GA 400. With no through southbound traffic on GA 13, this left turn would be protected for the entire green phase.

Speaking of HOV, the Express Lanes are operating at HOV-3+ as a result of the I-85 closure:

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bigdave

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2017, 12:08:32 PM »

Birmingham lost an overpass on I-65 early this century. The replacement bridge was done within 60 days. Pretty good work for ALDoNT.  :bigass:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/02sep/05.cfm

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jdb1234

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2017, 12:23:19 PM »

^^
Actually lost 2 bridges at that interchange.  Another accident damaged a different bridge a few years later.
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kkt

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2017, 12:36:51 PM »

Steel is strong, but very vulnerable to heat.  Next time, don't store burnable materials underneath.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2017, 12:41:56 PM »

How are they going to detour that kind of traffic? For example the ramp at I-75 north to I-285 east is only a single lane. I-20 east to I-285 north is also only a single lane. I can understand why they call this a transportation crisis.

Basically, they don't. They'll create an 'official' detour route for interstate travelers that would've just traveled thru the area, and then maybe a shorter route closer to the roads/highways that are closed for more local traffic, but for the most part motorists will be on their own to find the best way to/from their destinations.

Steel is strong, but very vulnerable to heat.  Next time, don't store burnable materials underneath.


You can bet that today's #1 job for those not dealing with this incident is to remove anything else stored underneath overpasses in Atlanta, and probably Georgia.

In the 49 other states, the press may ask their Transportation Departments if they are in similar situations.  In 49 other states, they will respond no.
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kkt

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2017, 12:51:50 PM »

Reminds me of the closure of multiple routes through the Oakland maze due to a gasoline truck overturning and igniting on the lowest level in 2007:

https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Tanker_truck_fire_causes_collapse_on_Oakland_Freeway
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AsphaltPlanet

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2017, 12:54:55 PM »

It may be possible that the southbound bridge may be able to be strengthened in it's current form and not need to be demolished (at least immediately) due to the fire.  If this is the case (it may not be), they might be able to at least get some form of a temporary detour around the northbound structure open within a few days or weeks.

A similar incident occurred on the 401 in Toronto back in 2008.  A semi-truck caught fire on a ramp beneath the collector lanes causing significant damage to the structure overhead.  The structure was temporarily strengthened during the week following the fire, and was replaced almost a decade later during a construction project:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/bridge-fire-to-snarl-morning-commute-on-401/article17971117/

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Re: I-85 overpass collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2017, 01:44:24 PM »

Yep, time for the newspapers to remember the good times from their own local incidents.

This tire fire under 95 occurred 21 years ago in Philly.  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/real-time/Atlanta-Interstate-fire-recalls-Philly-I-95-fire-21-years-ago.html.  Took a few weeks to repair the better bridge, knock down the jersey barriers and build what was necessary for the contra-flow on the better bridge until the collapsed bridge could be rebuilt.
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