Bottom lines crumble after Atlanta bridge collapse

ATLANTA - Commuters from Atlanta's north side are facing a slow two months after a section of Interstate 85 collapsed during a fire on March 30.

Engineers hope to have the bridge replaced by June 15, much faster than anticipated, but commuters and business owners around the affected area are feeling the pain after only a week.

Myriam Belasse owns a clothing boutique right next to the section of bridge that collapsed.

She has had to adjust her hours and will likely open on Sundays to make up for lost business.

"We have cancellations from clients," Belasse said. "People don't want to get caught up in the traffic."

Belasse said if people do fight through the detours and side roads they don't want to make any pit stops.

Her story is not unusual. Business owners along the suddenly choked side streets are all complaining of a drop in sales.

Construction crews have been able to open up Piedmont St. which runs underneath where the bridge used to span, and the remaining northbound lanes of I-85 have been converted to two-way traffic.

Belasse says she's hoping for some assistance from the city, state or federal government (since interstates are federally funded) to make up for lost revenue over the next two months.

"We're all suffering," she said.

Atlanta's mass transit system, MARTA, has been flooded with new passengers over the last week.

This week was spring break for Atlanta Public Schools. Residents are bracing for Monday morning's commute, which they say will be the true test of how the city will cope until June.

 
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