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Atlanta's I-85 Set To Reopen By Monday, After Extensive Repairs (Time-Lapse Video)

Six weeks after a bridge collapse shut down a crucial piece of the interstate system in Atlanta, Georgia officials say they'll be ready to reopen Interstate 85 by May 15 — more than five weeks ahead of schedule. The road normally carries nearly 250,000 vehicles a day.

Both northbound and southbound lanes of the I-85 bridge over Piedmont Road will be opened to traffic for Monday morning's rush hour, Gov. Nathan Deal said, in a joint announcement with state transportation officials Wednesday morning.

The March 30 collapse was blamed on a large fire beneath the overpass, in an area that was used to store construction supplies. Officials have said the blaze was set maliciously, and an arrest was made. No injuries were reported.

The plan to reopen the road ahead of schedule means it will be ready for vacation traffic on Memorial Day. To repair the road, work crews replaced 13 columns and 61 beams and logged some 85,000 hours, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

When officials put extensive detours in place and began repairs the day after the fire, they predicted it could take several months to get the road ready to carry traffic.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.