DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - All lanes of Interstate 20 westbound have reopened after a portion of the road in DeKalb County buckled Monday.
DeKalb County Police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said concrete was being pumped under the highway when a rupture forced the material upward, buckling the pavement.
The Georgia DOT said crews worked through the night, removing dirt and concrete, then removing and replacing the pipe below, which officials said was the most time consuming part. GDOT said crews poured 63 cubic yards of concrete overnight.
All lanes of traffic opened around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, which was sooner than expected.
“We wanted to open all lanes as soon as possible, so we used temporary tape to mark the lanes this morning. Crews will return when traffic volumes are lower to place the permanent lane striping,” said Kathy Zahul, metro area District Engineer.
“There was work going on, private contractors working on abandoned gas line filling with concrete, some sort of pocket, pressurization occurred causing a blow out,” said Captain Eric Jackson, DeKalb County Fire Rescue.
Capt. Jackson said the buckled road caused issues for a motorcyclist, along with another driver. Neither were able to get around, but instead they ramped off the raised interstate and went airborne. The driver in the car wasn't injured, but Jackson said medics had to rush the motorcyclist to the hospital.
The westbound lanes of the interstate were closed between Gresham and Candler roads, where the road was thrusted upward in the HOV lane.
A statement by GDOT sent to FOX 5 News reads:
"Georgia DOT crews are responding to an issue that has closed I-20 Westbound between Candler and Gresham Roads. A section of the roadway has buckled, likely due to an issue with an underground utility instillation. Inspectors are assessing the situation and crews are prepared to work quickly to repair the interstate. Until further information is available we cannot provide an estimated time for repairs to be made. More information will be shared as soon possible. In the meantime, I-20 westbound traffic is being diverted off the Interstate at I-285 (north or south). No traffic from either I-285 northbound or southbound is being permitted to exit onto I-20 West."
The workers filling the abandoned gas line were contracted by Atlanta Gas Light. The cause of the build in up in pressure is still under investigation.
The break in the road caused more headaches for thousands of metro Atlanta drivers forcing them to reroute their Tuesday morning commutes.
The I-20 corridor through DeKalb County has been heavily traveled by commuters since the collapse of the Interstate 85 overpass near Piedmont Road.
“You know, it’s enough that we have 85, now this,” said driver, Arrisia Sims.
“I was shocked, like wow, how does that happen,” said driver Darrius Jones.
Just 13 miles away from the incident on I-20, repairs continue on I-85. With two major interstates having major problems less than three weeks apart from each other, some question the infrastructure of our interstates.
“This does not indicate that we have widespread crumbling infrastructure,” said Natalie Dale, Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson. “Given the sheer magnitude of the utilities underneath our roads and the work that is being done on them every single day, this is not an occurrence that happens every day.”
Officials with GDOT said while they are spread thin, they have contractors and a full staff to handle repairs on both interstates.