Piedmont Road businesses adjust after I-85 collapse

A segment of Piedmont Road was closed following the collapse of a section of I-85, as seen above on April 1, but it has been reopened and will remain open indefinitely starting April 5, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. (Photo by Phil Mosier)

By Grace Huseth

Everyone in Atlanta has felt the aftermath of the I-85 bridge collapse, but businesses around the area have been affected more than others. .

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is still encouraging motorists to use I-285, I-75 and I-20 to get around the collapse area, which is expected to be closed until at least June 15. While the Buford-Spring Connector and Piedmont Road are back open, GDOT officials want those roads used for local traffic.

At Tower Beer, Wine and Spirits manager Asya Asenova said she had never seen such terrible traffic on Piedmont Road. “It was a dead zone the week after the collapse. I was sending workers home a lot.”

Tower has a great vantage point of the bridge construction process. Asenova said she has seen construction take place both in the early mornings and late nights. “I know they are working 24 hours on it. They have been working on it overnight and staying busy,” Asenova said.

Next door, Anthem Automotive fared a little better. The owner, who would not disclose his name, said the demand for their service, repair and maintenance did not decline after the bridge collapsed. However, the parts delivery system has been affected. In the past, parts from around Atlanta could reach the shop in one or two hours, but now it’s up to four hours.

The Piedmont Goodwill store had a rough week after the I-85 collapse. They closed for a few days due to traffic and lane closures and now have modified hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“When the bridge collapsed, there was an overflow of evening traffic from Tattletale Lounge, strip clubs and night time businesses,” said Joseph Farese, owner of Gino’s NY Pizza Bar at the intersection of Piedmont and Cheshire Bridge. “It did hurt my business.”

Farese said business improved when the right Piedmont Road lane heading north reopened, but Cheshire Bridge Road still gets clogged.

“Sometimes it’s good to have traffic because people see that we are here. I don’t like the catastrophe, but sometimes it’s a good thing,” Farese said. One bright spot: Gino’s Uber Eats and Grub Hub delivery sales doubled, from just over 200 sales a week to nearly 400.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers assistant manager Sandra Gallardo said the popular burger spot just south of the collapse site saw a big drop in average sales, especially in the first week. They have been off their estimations for peak time and understand people are figuring out the traffic, as well as MARTA.

“There is dependency on the highway. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people have experience riding public transportation and some are confused with the process,” said Gallardo “Unfortunately things like this have to happen to make people realize how important public transportation is.”

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