You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Kempner: I-85 collapse an economic fork in the road

If there’s anything we aspire to in metro Atlanta, it is to be a community on the move.

So the collapse of an interstate bridge — of I-85 no less in Buckhead — feels like the caving in of Atlanta’s femoral artery.

This one won’t kill us. It will, though, hurt us. We know it will make our drives more miserable. And it will again remind us that the limits of our transportation system might be metro Atlanta’s biggest economic handicap.

The shock of it will lead to demands for fixes and solutions, because that’s what we do after such things.

We’ll come up with some. And some may actually be put in place before attention wanes.

It happened after Snowmaggedon, when a sheen of ice made all our concrete and asphalt and sophisticated traffic systems look insignificant. So our leaders did what we expected them to: they got more snow equipment and deicing stuff and promised that next time they would send us home earlier, long before ice could block us in.

This I-85 collapse presents a much more difficult job than getting ice to melt in the South.

The eventual repair of the hole in our interstate will not make our mobility or our economy any less vulnerable than they were before.

Doing anything more than that looks like a monumental task. It is neither cheap nor fast to buy more interstates and lay fresh MARTA rails.

But in the meantime, the I-85 collapse — like the longer running collapse of the efficiency and predictability of our commutes in general — will add momentum to another kind of change already underway.

It’s not driven so much by big government fixes, but by hundreds of thousands of Atlantans making changes in their daily lives.

It’s the millennials and empty nesters who are already opting to move intown and cut miles from their commutes. It’s the folks who choose to live near beefed-up town centers in the suburbs where sometimes they can really walk to things that are worth walking to. And it’s people who have discovered that often they can work from their dining room table just as easily as they can from an office 20 miles away.

We’re figuring out workarounds, some of which are a revelation. Which is exactly what we need when a hole gets busted in our mighty interstate.

There’s always more than one way to go.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

The questions all landlords should ask

The vast majority of rental problems can be eliminated in advance through a good screening process. Many amateur landlords are so desperate for a tenant that they accept the first applicant who walks in the door. That is a rental nightmare waiting to happen. When screening any applicant, remember to be consistent - treat all potential renters the same...
New Atlanta Fed president sees lighter burden for small banks
New Atlanta Fed president sees lighter burden for small banks

Banks — especially the smaller ones — can probably expect a lighter touch from regulators in the future, but not in areas that would weaken protections against another industry meltdown, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s new president. Earlier this month the U.S. Treasury Department unveiled a nearly 150-page report...
Couple gets engaged on Delta flight
Couple gets engaged on Delta flight

A Delta Air Lines plane at 30,000 feet became the scene for a carefully-orchestrated engagement this week. Flights were already part of the couple’s long-distance relationship stretched between Atlanta and Pennsylvania — Deepum Patel works in Atlanta while girlfriend Neha Chakravarti has been in dental school in Pennsylvania. During a Wednesday...
Georgia sees huge drop in people on food stamps
Georgia sees huge drop in people on food stamps

Georgia is seeing a significant decrease in the number of people receiving food stamps as the improving economy lifts many recipients into new jobs and frees them from the fear of going hungry. The number of Georgians getting food stamps has dropped by 300,000 from 1.9 million in April 2013 to 1.6 million. That decrease of 16 percent in the federally...
Record number of travelers expected over July 4th weekend
Record number of travelers expected over July 4th weekend

A record number of people are expected to travel over the 4th of July holiday weekend, according to AAA. A total of 44.2 million Americans are forecast to take trips over the period running from June 30 to July 4. In Georgia, 1.3 million people will travel for the holiday, AAA says. Most of them will be driving. But 3.4 million across the country are...
More Stories