State of Region Russell McMurry Mike Garner Jeremy Daniel Kerry Armstrong David Haynes

From left, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry; GDOT Bridge Liaison Engineers Mike Garner and Jeremy Daniel, Atlanta Regional Commission chair Kerry Armstrong and David Haynes, the commission’s long-range transportation plan manager, who had the idea for the award.

The Atlanta Regional Commission honored the two engineers leading the Georgia Department of Transportation’s project in replacing the Interstate 85 bridge over Piedmont Road in Atlanta at its annual State of the Region Breakfast event Nov. 3 at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.

Following the March 30 fire that caused the bridge to collapse, GDOT crews, leading a team from contractor C.W. Matthews, worked feverishly to replace the bridge, completing it in mid-May, a month sooner than originally expected. Mike Garner and Jeremy Daniel, both construction liaison engineers with GDOT who managed the project, won the Unsung Hero award.

In his speech introducing the awards, Kerry Armstrong, the commission’s chair, said, “When (the) ARC began planning this year’s State of the Region Breakfast, David Haynes, a leader in our transportation group, shared a great idea: what if we found a way to celebrate our region’s ‘unsung heroes’ – you know, the people who work quietly and tirelessly behind the scenes. And so, I am thrilled to introduce ARC’s Unsung Hero award. This award will be presented each year in honor of one or more people whose work may not be widely known but certainly deserves recognition.

“Imagine getting that call after the I-85 bridge collapse and being told that YOU were on deck to demo and rebuild it. A whole region is depending on you and your team to get it done as quickly as possible. No pressure, right?

“There was no instruction manual they could turn to. After all, nothing like this had happened in our region before! To get the job done, Mike and Jeremy drew on their decades of experience, their strong leadership skills, and their tireless work ethic. Incredibly, the project was completed five weeks early. These two aren’t accustomed to the spotlight. They’ll likely be the first to say that the true heroes were the amazing crews they managed. That’s just the kind of guys they are.”

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