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04.13.2017 - I-85 Atlanta First Responders Event

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao

Atlanta First Responders Events

The White House

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I want to commend the heroic first responders from Atlanta, who rushed to the scene of the devastating I-85 bridge fire and collapse on March 30th. 

Their quick thinking and immediate action prevented what could have been a terrible tragedy. 15 of these heroes are with us today, representing the City of Atlanta police and fire departments, and the Georgia State Patrol.   They cleared the bridge, brought the fire under control, and got everyone out of harm’s way before the bridge collapsed. 

In addition, let me commend Governor Nathan Deal for his leadership. As a regular practice, he pre-positions state troopers along I-85.   During the fires, these troopers literally turned around thousands of cars, which was critical to saving lives.  Thanks to Governor Deal, Georgia Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry, and all the first responders, there was no loss of life or injury.

Also, the U.S. Department of Transportation was on the ground while the fires were still burning.  They worked with Governor Deal, Commissioner McMurry and state officials to expedite the demolition and rebuilding of the I-85 Bridge. Within 15 hours of the fire, we had provided $10 million in emergency funds for the repairs.  As of now, it looks like the bridge will be finished by June—of this year!         

You represent the best our country has to offer. Thank you for everything you do to protect and save lives every day!