Collapsed interstate bridge in Georgia to open next week

FILE - In this March 30, 2017, file photo, smoke billows from a section of an overpass that collapsed from a large fire on Interstate 85 in Atlanta. The collapse highlighted the region’s reliance on cars and mass transit advocates hope the traffic headaches while the interstate is repaired will spur new interest in expanding rail and bus routes in the congested city. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia officials say a section of a heavily used Atlanta interstate will reopen at the latest by next week, less than two months after it collapsed due to a large fire under a bridge.

Gov. Nathan Deal and state transportation officials announced Wednesday that the bridge will be open by the Monday morning rush hour.

Officials have said the bridge reconstruction will cost up to $16.6 million, most of which is expected to be covered by the federal government.

An estimated 250,000 drivers use the stretch of Interstate 85, which has been closed since the March 30 collapse. Drivers were forced to use other congested routes or transit systems.

A multimillion-dollar bonus for the contractor motivated quick work on the project. State transportation officials initially estimated they wouldn’t reopen the highway until June.

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