The bridge, the bridge, the bridge is on fire! That is what most Atlanta residents were saying March 30, when a stretch of I-85, the section that stops short of GA-400, caught on fire.
The supposed cause of the bridge’s fire was due to the actions of a homeless man, Basil Eleby, who was smoking crack under the bridge. Construction materials, including PVC and high-density polyethylene pipe, were also stored under that bridge, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
It was said that Eleby ignited the fire when he decided to place a chair in a shopping cart and light it from underneath, according to USA Today. Eleby was charged with first-degree arson and criminal damage to property, with two other individuals, Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas, who were charged with criminal trespassing.
Despite the bridge burning, clearly making major headlines this week, there were no deaths cited and no one was physically injured – thankfully. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to the mental injuries caused by the metropolitan traffic; those stuck in the horrendous overcrowding were losing their minds.
Listen: traffic in Atlanta generally causes some freakouts in the privacy of commuters’ cars, but that night and all-day on March 31 was an entirely different story. Everyone leaving and entering the city were in traffic for hours, and a number of blockades created most likely caused a few GPS apps to explode when trying to figure out how to leave the giant hot mess. Even worse, hundreds of cars stuck in the traffic reversed and drove out of the jam by driving the opposite direction that was designated for that side of the highway.
However, the ones that were most affected by this unfortunate event were our dear commuting students. They were royally hindered because while their commute to Georgia State is as rough as it is, applying this major hiccup has caused some travel re-evaluations.
The problem is, everyone thinks the same way, or more appropriately, everyone’s GPS thinks the same way. For this reason, even the alternative routes have already become congested with people just trying to get back on track.
Students are emailing teachers, teachers are emailing students, employers are emailing employees and so on; everyone is panicking about how late they will be and whether or not there’s even a point to going to class or work.
It’ll be a rough ride for a while guys, but don’t drop out or purposely crash your car to avoid the entire thing just yet. Keep positive; there are still some back roads that can lead you to your desired location, even though the travel time may be longer. However, that could possible mean turning off Netflix a little early at night in order to get up early as hell in the morning.
If you live anywhere in Gwinnett, North DeKalb or any other stop off of I-85, your route to campus has been severely affected. While taking I-285 around the perimeter to get to your destination might seem like a good idea, it doesn’t help if you need to get somewhere quickly, or if you need to get somewhere that’s an exit after the burnt part of I-85.
Marietta Street to Northside Drive can get you to and from Cobb County. A combination of Northside and Peachtree Road can get you to North Fulton County. Taking Buford Highway is also a good option when traveling north to Lawrenceville, Suwanee and/or Duluth. Peachtree Industrial is also a good option when traveling North, so keep that in mind.
Most importantly, Waze is your ultimate friend. This app will give you endless options for different routes, and if you want to avoid the highway all together, Waze gives you the option to pick “avoid freeways” and will then display clear, traffic-free backroads onto your screen. Be sure to make use of this free perk.
Utilize Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Xpress buses. Park your car at your local bus stop and take the bus downtown. In the afternoon, take the same bus back to your car. The service operates in Clayton, Cherokee, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties and if you’re on the blue line, a round-trip costs $5. If you’re on the green line, a round-trip will cost you $7. Visit their website for more information.
I-85 has surely screwed everyone over, but at least they’re trying. We just wish they would try a little harder.
To our student commuters, The Signal would love to hear all about the horror stories endured during the last week on the road. So email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to vent to us about your struggles.