While Atlanta commuters continue to navigate around a portion of Interstate 85 near downtown that collapsed after a fire late last week, national and international media outlets are taking jabs at the state of the city's infrastructure planning, according to Curbed Atlanta.
I-85 sees approximately 400,000 vehicles each day and is both a vital Atlanta-area route and a heavily-traveled throughway for the Southeast. The U.S. Department of Transportation has so far offered $10 million to help with repairs. Officials said it will take months to repair the 350-foot stretch of highway, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The bridge passed a 2015 inspection with high marks, but a Georgia Tech official said even steel-reinforced concrete structures like bridges are vulnerable to fires if they burn hot and long enough. Three people were arrested in connection with the fire.
Criticism has come hard and fast around Atlanta's lack of alternative transportation options for commuters who would otherwise be traveling on I-85, spotlighting a problem many major U.S. cities face: a lack of reliable and convenient mass transit. Some high-density metros, like New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, have invested in public trolleys, subways and other trains, but many commuters elsewhere in the country find themselves in daily gridlock on highways that can't keep pace with increased vehicular traffic.
In San Antonio this week, crews broke ground on a $500 million highway expansion that should relieve traffic wait times on a stretch of road dubbed one of the most congested in the state. However, some local officials have commented that the money could have been better spent on mass transportation.
The Trump administration has expressed support for these types of projects but raised concern among industry observers last month with plans, as outlined in its proposed 2018 budget, to eradicate the Federal Transit Administration program that provides much of the federal grant money for them.