North-South, now East-West: Another Atlanta highway closes

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - Another major highway through Atlanta was partially shut down on Monday, this one because the pavement rose up and broke apart in an area where underground utility work was being done.

A motorcyclist hit the rising pavement in the carpool lane of Interstate 20, went airborne and was critically injured. Pieces of pavement rose to nearly the height of a full-grown man as the road buckled.

Witnesses said other motorists rushed to the motorcyclist's aid. DeKalb County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said he was hospitalized with multiple fractures.

The buckling was caused by a utility crew using machinery to bore a new natural gas pipeline under the highway, authorities said.

"Work was being performed in the area on behalf of Atlanta Gas Light," company spokeswoman Melissa Clontz said. "This incident was not caused by and did not involve the release of natural gas."

County spokeswoman Sarah Page said all westbound lanes were closed until further notice several miles southeast of downtown Atlanta. Westbound traffic is being diverted at Interstate 285, the city's perimeter highway.

This latest infrastructure problem will only snarl more traffic in the congested city, adding east-west complications to commutes already complicated by the collapse of an overpass on Interstate 85, a key north-south artery, due to a fire that police say was intentionally set.