Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Georgia DOT may move HERO units stored under I-85 in light of bridge collapse


As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday, federal investigators have found that the Georgia Department of Transportation is partly responsible for the fire that destroyed a section of I-85 in Atlanta last spring. 

The fire was allegedly started by a homeless man but spread quickly to construction material GDOT had stored under the bridge for years. The National Transportation Safety Board report released Wednesday said the “large amount of combustible material being stored underneath this section of the I-85 bridge increased the fire risk to the bridge” and contributed to the bridge collapse. 

GDOT says it no longer stores construction material under Georgia bridges. But the agency still houses its HERO road assistance units under I-85 near the site of the collapse. 

But perhaps not for much longer. GDOT may relocate its HERO units in light of the I-85 fire, the NTSB reported. 

The HERO units roam metro Atlanta highways to assist stranded motorists, clear debris and lend a hand at accident scenes. GDOT parks the vehicles under I-85. Supervisors also have offices under the highway, and employees meet there for shift changes and safety meetings. 

According to the NTSB report, the State Fire Marshal’s Office inspected the HERO facility under I-85 after the bridge collapsed and found the facility complies with all state requirements. 

But GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale told the AJC Wednesday the agency is considering other locations for the HERO vehicles. She said there is no specific time frame for making the decision. 

You can read more about the NTSB report here.


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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.