On Monday morning, April 17, 2017, Atlanta’s highway system faced yet another setback as a section of pavement on Interstate 20 buckled and created a three-foot-tall bump, resulting in a temporary shutdown of the highway. The incident comes weeks after a fire caused an elevated section of Interstate 85 to collapse on March 30. The most recent incident led to one injury as a motorcyclist hit the damaged patch and was “flung through the air”; he remains in the hospital and is in critical condition.

Exit to I-20 (Flickr/Ken Lund)

The damage – which occurred in an area where an Atlanta Gas Light contractor was working – is believed to have been caused by an underground gas leak, though utility providers say no natural gas was released. Crews responded quickly to remove the broken concrete and dirt and replace the pipe. By mid-day April 18, all lanes of Interstate 20 were reopened.

City officials described the event as a traffic “nightmare”. With Interstate 85 closed for “at least several months” for repairs, this latest incident raises more questions about the overall condition of Atlanta’s transportation infrastructure. Atlanta officials, however, said that the incident does not indicate “widespread crumbling infrastructure” but rather, a “stroke of bad luck.” Following the Interstate 85 incident, President Trump lauded Atlanta’s first responders and said that his administration will be “doing a lot” with infrastructure in the coming weeks.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Correction: Buckled Highway Story – ABC News
  2. Highway Headache: Buckled pavement Shuts Down I-20 in Atlanta – WRAL
  3. Fire Causes the Collapse of the I-85 in Atlanta – The Global Resilience Institute
  4. Atlanta Highway Buckles Dramatically, injuring a Motorcyclist – NPR
  5. Update: All Lanes Reopened after Atlanta Highway Buckled, Broke Apart – WSAV
  6. Section of I-20 Buckles in Atlanta, Launching Motorcycle Rider into Air – Fox 31 Denver
  7. Massive Fire in Atlanta Destroys Major Highway, Could Take Several Months to Rebuild – Fox 31 Denver
  8. North-South, Now East-West: Another Atlanta Highway Closes – Savannah Now
  9. I-20 Reopens after Air-Pocket ‘blow-out’ rips through surface – 11 Alive
  10. Trump on Atlanta’s Highway Collapse: ‘Those Flames Were Amazing’ – CNN