Streetlytics and Understanding the Impact of the Atlanta I-85 Bridge Collapse

By now you’ve no doubt heard about our crumbling infrastructure here in Atlanta. Every day is a new commuting adventure. HOV lanes have become dare devil ramps, sinkholes are shutting down major roads, and then there was the fire and bridge collapse on I-85. Atlanta is internationally known for it’s horrific traffic already, recently ranking 9th worst in the world. This fire was catastrophic and only worsened the situation.



Indirect impact is almost impossible to measure, but who would be impacted directly by the bridge collapse? Who relies on that stretch of highway every day? The regional planning group for the 10-county area, Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), wanted to know. They reached out to Citilabs’ Solutions Engineer Matt Pettit, who pulled together Streetlytics data in ArcGIS maps to create an origin and destination heat map of the traffic that typically uses this stretch of I-85.

Matt pulled four maps together: weekday AM Peak and PM Peak on I-85, and weekday AM Peak and PM Peak with alternate routes. Blue areas are destinations and green areas are origins - the darker the more intense and vice versa.

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The first thing that jumps out is the sheer breadth of the affected communities - from all the way out past Sugar Hill to way down south of Peachtree City and Newnan. It’s shocking to think that some in our community are driving that far on a daily basis. And the angularity of the impact is very pronounced - almost 2:00 straight down to 7:00 on a clock face. We all heard the estimated 250,000 people a day number, but this really paints a picture of who those quarter million are.

The next thing to note is the big difference on the residual impact tabs, just how congested (with few detour options) that area really is. With all those directly impacted still needing to get from A to B, you can imagine what that part of town was like for most of the day.



Making decisions with the data

“Having the trip data of how many people go over that stretch of the road is helpful, but the visualization of all the data layered all in one place really tells a very compelling story,” said Guy Rousseau of ARC. “We have shared the study with the City of Atlanta, the Georgia DOT and area Traffic Management agencies. The information has been helpful in determining targeted outreach to those impacted, determining detour routes and closures as well as confirming assumptions made about the impacted population.”

Powerful information

With the level of infrastructure deficiencies around the country, more impactful incidents are bound to happen. With the big data tools like Streetlytics available now, cities and states are much better equipped to answer questions about the impacted population and plan accordingly. Additionally, governmental organizations now have the ability to be proactive and be better prepared for similar eventualities in the future.

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Hugh Malkin
Director of Sales

Hugh is a seasoned entrepreneur and product manager who has spent the past decade helping make cities better places to live. Prior to working with Citilabs, Hugh ran the research and development division of the Time Out Group, where his team developed new ways to combine geographical data sources to create new ways to experience cities. Hugh came to Time Out through the acquisition of Hugecity, a startup he co-founded that geographically and temporally displayed Facebook’s content. Prior to Hugecity, he helped Philips Lighting understand how LED, sensors, and beacons could change the way cities understand safety, energy consumption, and traffic patterns.