2017 has been a rollercoaster of a year throughout the world, but certainly, its effects have had an impact here in Atlanta. With its highs and lows, Atlanta has seen a collection of memorable moments that comprise a year full of promise, of heartache and, at times, chaos. Here at The Atlanta Voice, our team has comprised a few of these historical milestones.
THE BRIDGE IS OVER
Here in Atlanta, the collapse of an I-85 bridge caused a crisis that captured national media attention. Though it wasn’t the equivalent of a massive hurricane, the interstate reaches from Montgomery, AL to Petersburg, VA, and is an important route in the Southeast.
The aftermath brought on a game of “Who Did It? Where Basil Eleby was charged with creating a fire that caused the collapse. Basil’s attorneys argued that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was to blame since it stored flammable construction materials under the bridge.
GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry spoke out to say that storing those materials was not only common but perfectly legal. Six weeks later, the section reopened thanks to $10 million in emergency relief funds from the federal government.
Nearly 11 hours after a power outage paralyzed the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International got its electricity back Dec. 18.
The lights flickered on shortly before midnight, after an exhausting day for travelers, that had left thousands stranded in dark terminals and on planes sitting on the tarmac.
A ground stop in Atlanta disrupted air travel across the United States and led to cancellations of more than 1,000 flights in and out of the airport.
Shortly after the power came back, some passengers lined up at security screening, hoping to beat the crowds as the TSA checkpoints re-opened at 3:30 a.m. The airport could see a logjam of passengers and delays as more than 400 flights have been canceled Monday.
The outage, which affected all airport operations, started with a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. The electrical fire’s intensity damaged two substations serving the airport, including the airport’s “redundant system” that should have provided backup power, Reed said. The outage left passengers sitting in planes on the tarmac for hours.
The Georgia Dome, former home of the Atlanta Falcons, collapsed Monday morning in a scheduled (and meticulously-controlled) explosive demolition.
The stadium’s 250,000 cubic yards of concrete needed 480,000 pounds of explosives (that’s 240 tons) to take it out. Watch the video above to see the 71,250-seat, concrete stadium get flattened in just 12 seconds, according to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA).
The NFL’s Falcons have moved next door to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium after playing at the Dome for 25 years. A new hotel, parking deck and “Home Depot Backyard” tailgating space will take the Dome’s place right next to the new stadium.
The massive Georgia Dome had been in operation since 1992 and was the only venue to host the Super Bowl, Olympics and the NCCA Men’s Final Four, the GWCCA noted in a press release.
Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood conceded the race two weeks after the election runoff, saying she will not contest the results despite earlier calls for a recount.
Norwood had asked for a recount after results showed her opponent, Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms, winning by a narrow margin in the Dec. 5 runoff.
But in a change of mind, the independent candidate conceded late Wednesday night, saying while she believes there were vote irregularities, she will not contest the results.
“For the future of this city, I believe it is the right thing to do to move on and hold a new administration accountable to serve this great city well,” she said in a video posted online.
“I thank everyone who came forward to report polling situations and ballot issues that were concerning.”
On a happier tip, Atlanta was able to end the year off on a high note. The city elected Keisha Lance Bottoms to be the next Mayor of Atlanta.
The election was a very close call, but most outlets and constituents all agreed: Bottoms’ victory was recognized nationwide. Only in the last week did embittered candidate Mary Norwood finally concede to Bottoms in an odd video posted to YouTube.
Bottoms joined a slew of black women elected or appointed for mayor during this year’s election cycle, including New Orleans’ Latoya Cantrell, Charlotte’s Vy Lyles and, now, San Francisco’s London Breed, who was named interim mayor following the surprise death of Mayor Ed Lee.
Bottoms, the City Council president, and rest of the newly elected city council officials will be inaugurated in a special ceremony on Jan. 2, hosted at Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel.