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

Delta investigates pilot’s actions during altercation between passengers, pilot returns to duty
Delta investigates pilot’s actions during altercation between passengers, pilot returns to duty

Delta Air Lines said it has returned a pilot to duty after investigating his actions during an altercation between passengers on a jetway after a flight. The video was posted on entertainment website showing a pilot trying to break up a fight between two passengers on a jetway, grabbing one by the arm and appearing to slap his hand down...
Airline incidents spark debate over passenger rights
Airline incidents spark debate over passenger rights

Sparked by an explosive video of a United Airlines passenger being dragged from a plane, a series of incidents captured on cellphone video showing passenger conflicts with airline staff are raising concerns about travelers’ rights and airline safety practices. The incidents are often a clash of passengers’ rights, airline regulations and...
Not a bad retirement fund: ex-CEO collects $72 million of Delta stock
Not a bad retirement fund: ex-CEO collects $72 million of Delta stock

Former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson walked away with more than $72 million in stock last year, the Atlanta airline disclosed Friday. The total, disclosed in Delta’s proxy filing Friday afternoon, included $64.8 million from Anderson’s exercise in 2016 of stock options that he had received as part of his pay over several years...
Kempner: 67-year-old whistle blower in DeKalb case ‘just did my job’
Kempner: 67-year-old whistle blower in DeKalb case ‘just did my job’

Some people just can’t let stuff go. It sounds like it was that way for Deborah Cook, who at 67 may finally get some satisfaction – and a piece of a $4.6 million settlement – after making sure the feds held a DeKalb County company responsible for alleged wrongdoing. Cook told me she just couldn’t stomach what she believed was...
Coke at a crossroads with new CEO in charge
Coke at a crossroads with new CEO in charge

Legendary investor Warren Buffett once was quoted as saying Coca-Cola was such a strong company that a ham sandwich could run it. As new CEO James Quincey takes over from the outgoing Muhtar Kent on Monday, he faces challenges that have turned Buffett’s aphorism into a painful reminder of better days. The Atlanta icon is still hugely profitable...
More Stories