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 transportation official gets more praise for I-85 bridge reconstruction

Georgia’s top transportation official continues to collect accolades for his handling of the collapse of the I-85 bridge last spring.

Georgia Trend magazine named Russell McMurry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of the Transportation, its 2018 Georgian of the Year. The magazine cited McMurry’s “leadership in handling an emergency and addressing the transportation challenges of a growing state.”

It’s the latest notice McMurry has received after the quick reconstruction of I-85. It caught fire and collapsed on March 30 and reopened just six weeks later. GDOT used a $3.1 million contractor incentive and accelerated construction techniques to speed up the work.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao are among those who have praised McMurry’s handling of the disaster. In August, the State Transportation Board rewarded him with a $100,000 raise.

Meanwhile, GDOT’s own role in the I-85 blaze remains under scrutiny. The agency stored construction material under the highway that fueled the fire. In light of what happened in Atlanta, the National Transportation Safety Board is reviewing the practice of storing such material under bridges. The State Fire Marshal’s Office also is reviewing GDOT storage practices.

The homeless man who allegedly set the blaze may never be tried for the crime.

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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.