Like It or Not: I-85 Collapse

Opinion piece by George Chidi

Allegedly, a guy smoking crack burned down I-85.

No need to think too deeply about this, citizens. Rejoice! We have Basil Eleby, a person described as a homeless crack user in custody. Nothing else is wrong. Nothing. Commute safely.

After all, everyone else stores stuff that can melt a bridge if it catches on fire, right? And why wouldn’t we stack it around the support columns of the most important highway in the state? What could possibly go wrong?

Trust us.

Investigators said Eleby, who has a history of drug arrests, burned a chair in a shopping cart, setting off the fire. Why? Well … they didn’t say. 

These are the mysteries of crack. 

Look. Maybe he did it. Maybe he didn’t. That’s what trials are for. I'm not actually here to defend him.

But the Georgia Department of Transportation may as well have planted a bomb at the base of a bridge, and we’re supposed to lay all the blame on this guy?

Consider this. Last year, a middle manager at DOT went to jail for taking bribes to illegally store material on DOT property.

We know there was plastic coil under the bridge. But right now, given that criminal history, we don’t really know what else might have been under there. And I bet the DOT isn’t sure, either. The lot security stunk. And the state is on the hook for its lack of security.

The “I” in I-85 stands for Interstate. That’s a federal road, too. This whole thing could go from a bad DOT mistake to a federal negligence investigation, quick.

And I’ve got a problem with the state investigating itself, conveniently – instantly –  finding someone powerless to arrest– someone giving them a way to pin the blame on outside of state government, before they end up in a federal hearing.

I’d like the Department of Justice to take the arson investigation away from the state. I think the incentive for Georgia investigators to sweep this under the rubble is too great.

If you agree with me and feel like the hundreds of thousands of commuters whose lives have gone up in smoke deserve real answers and real accountability, contact the U.S. Attorney’s office, and senators Johnny Isaakson and David Perdue. Here is their contact information.

U.S. Attorney John Horn: (404) 581-6000

Senator Johnny Isakson: (202) 224-3643 (Washington, DC)  |  (770) 661-0999 (Atlanta)

Senator David Perdue: (202) 224-3521 (Washington, DC)  |  (404) 865-0087 (Atlanta)

Mr. Eleby will get his day in court, so should anyone else who had a hand in this disaster. 

DISCLAIMER: This segment represents the views of the commentator and not necessarily those of FOX 5 Atlanta.