ATLANTA, GA (WTVM) - Drivers in Atlanta are facing the new reality of trying to figure out how to get around one of the nation's most traffic filled cities after a portion of Interstate 85 collapsed Thursday.
Officials say it will likely take months to repair and reopen the highway, but it's not just Atlanta commuters that will be affected.
Atlanta is, of course, a major southeast hub and Interstate 85 a major north-south artery. The closure comes at a sensitive time with hordes of spring break vacationers traveling through the region and summer travel not too far off.
But even if you have no plans to travel anywhere near Atlanta there's a good chance you depend on goods and products that would likely be transported on Interstate 85.
"The interstate system just doesn't affect Georgia the interstate system was designed a long time ago to do what, to move commerce," said Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
It's estimated that more than 220,000 vehicles per day use that section of highway, which leads in and out of downtown Atlanta and many of those are big rigs transporting goods.
"And so all that stuff that we like in our modern lives, in our societies, travels on these roadways and when you punch a hole in it, time is money," McDonough said.
Three people, all believed to be homeless have been arrested in connection with the fire that caused the highway collapse. Basil Eleby is charged with intentionally setting the fire. He was ordered held on a 200-thousand bond during a court appearance Saturday.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency. It could take until Labor Day to replace six sections of road on both sides of I-85. That's an area larger than two football fields.