From the Ashes: Transportation Options to Withstand Any Collapse

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(Photo Credit: Perimeter Connects)

We first learned of the I-85 Collapse during Renew Atlanta’s second public meeting for the DeKalb Avenue Complete Street project.

Thankfully, no one was injured. We would like to recognize and thank the first responders who steered rush hour commuters away from danger.

The I-85 Collapse deals a blow to regional commerce that flows through our city and it throws a wrench into commutes and trips across the region -- approximately 220,000 vehicles per day.

But it’s not the end of the world. It’s a wake-up call.

Overreliance on any one mode of transportation ultimately damages our resilience when faced with sudden shocks to the system like the recent collapse. As any investor knows, it’s never a good idea to put all your holdings in a single class. That’s why the city and the metro region need to diversify its transportation portfolio-- to withstand shocks just like this.

When the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake brought down a portion of the Bay Bridge that connects San Francisco and Oakland, killing 11 people, “commuters experienced minimal disruptions because they were able to switch to other modes of transportation like the BART subway system.”


(The Loma Prieta Earthquake, in fact, dramatically changed the San Francisco waterfront. The remaining freeway was demolished and replaced with a tree-lined boulevard and plaza that leads to the iconic Ferry Building, a food hall that rivals Pike Place in Seattle, Chelsea Market in New York City, and our own Ponce City Market.)

Back in Atlanta, after decades of inadequate public transit and transportation funding, we find ourselves with a network that has struggled to give you solid alternatives. City of Atlanta voters understood what was at stake when they overwhelmingly approved the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond, in 2015, and the TSPLOST and MARTA Referenda, in 2016.

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"Even if this forces more people to consider biking as an alternative to their car commute, the roads around I-85 and GA 400 -- Cheshire Bridge, Piedmont, Monroe Drive -- are often inhospitable to people on bikes," says Stephen Spring, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition's Education Coordinator. "Because of the lack of bicycle infrastructure, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will add extra free Urban Cycling classes to people in the area affected by the collapse."

Like the Phoenix that represents our city's rise from the ashes, Atlanta's transportation system can rise from these flames to create a better future. We are fighting for a transportation network that gives people safe and accessible multimodal options, through Complete Streets, Neighborhood Greenways, MARTA bus and rail service, and Relay Bike Share.

That's why the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition works so hard to advocate for the 16 Complete Street projects in the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond, Connecting the City streets, and the equitable expansion of Relay Bike Share.

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If you’ve been affected by the I-85 Collapse, we’re here to help:

  • Hack your commute and take a free urban cycling class. Boost your confidence and learn safe riding techniques from League Certified Instructors