So I feel like I witnessed one of those defining events that happen in big cities. Like, in 20 years my children might say, “mom, what was it like when the interstate collapsed in Atlanta?” And my response will be “it was weird. And it sucked.” But I won’t use the word “sucked” because I hope to use better vernacular by the time I have children (so I can in good faith get onto them for using poor word choices). I disgress.
But yes. The bridge fell a quarter of a mile from our house and we are 5 days into the aftermath. For posterity sake I think it will be intriguing to have a record of “where I was” when it happened, so here we go:
On Thursdays I take a gym class with my friend, and that night (known as “the night the bridge fell”) the instructor ran really, really late. He ran so late that we walked out of class and went shopping instead. We both wanted to find some dresses (and found NONE), and I needed to find my Mr. a bday present. We shopped around and lingered for about 20 minutes past we usually do. My friend drives us and when we were leaving (after grumbling about paying for parking because we ran so late) I looked over and saw a TON of cars stopped on 85 and commented “weird.” We got onto the road, then hit a TON of traffic on West Peachtree. We were grumbling about the traffic, and I was perplexed to see the GPS saying home was 6 miles away when I knew it to be only 3. Then our phones blew up. Jamie’s finance called her right when one of J’s friends called me. After saying hello I was greeted with “where are you?” I commented “I’m in some bad traffic on West Peachtree” and he goes, “I was calling because the bridge just fell by your house.” W.H.A.T.?!?!?!?! I then immediately launched into panic mode of thinking, “why are you calling me and not J?!” He then heard my tone and quickly shared that he called J first (who had no clue what was happening), who was safely at home, and that his phone was dying and J wanted him to call me to check on me (and share my location).
I looked into the awful traffic and asked my friend if she’d be cool with me bouncing to the MARTA station that was about 2 blocks behind us and after assuring me I was not being a terrible human being, I bolted home. Riding up MARTA was surreal. 85 South into the city was completely empty, and on 85 North cars were at a standstill with their drivers walking around the interstate. As soon as I got off the train I could smell the smoke in the air and saw the power out around my area. The traffic lights were out so when it came time to cross the road, I waited for someone else to get to the crosswalk; after someone else arrived I turned to him and said, “safety in numbers, let’s go” and had a buddy to run across the street with. I got home, called my BFF and greeted her with “turn on the news” and went to our balcony. We could easily see the smoke and lights, and that night eagerly watched the news on Twitter for updates.
The next morning J left early for work and I took myself to MARTA. Crossing the North Avenue bridge over the connector was spooky, as the volume was dramatically reduced. On Friday night we went to meet some friends at a location about 3 miles from our house and we spent over an hour in the car to go those few miles. They beat us to the restaurant and they were coming from Marietta.
Traffic was awful the entire time the bridge was being rebuilt. We again, live very close to it, and had to do a lot of rerouting (and sitting in traffic). We were THRILLED (as was the rest of the city) when construction was done (early!) and the bridge reopened. I knew a lot of people who said “oh, I’m going to wait to drive across the bridge” and my response was “let’s go.” Of course, my attitude is helped by being married to a traffic engineer who knows some of the ins and outs of bridge building!