WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao directed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials today to award $10 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to help begin repairs on the bridge over Atlanta’s I-85 near Piedmont Road which collapsed during rush hour as a result of intense heat from a fire below. Secretary Chao spoke with Governor Deal within the hour to discuss the situation and apprise him of the release of funds.
“The quick release of these funds will help to ensure the bridge is repaired safely and in a timely manner to prevent any further disruption to the hundreds of thousands of people who travel it on a daily basis,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “I also commend the first responders who saved countless lives by taking swift and appropriate action at the onset of this incident.”
The $10 million in “quick release” funding will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to these damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks. The bridge was built in 1953 and reconstructed in 1985 to accommodate increased traffic volumes. This section of I-85 carries an estimated 400,000 vehicles per day.
The ER funds are considered a down payment on the costs of short-term repairs now, which can make long-term repair work possible in the weeks ahead. The FHWA’s ER program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.