Georgia’s top stories of 2017 brought traffic to a standstill, first on the ground and then in the air. In March, an interstate bridge burned and collapsed, knocking out a key travel artery through north Georgia. Then, as the year drew to a close, air traffic ground to a stop when a fire knocked out power this month at Atlanta’s airport, the world’s busiest.
A look at these and other top stories in Georgia, as selected by The Associated Press:
— INTERSTATE BRIDGE COLLAPSE — A fire that began beneath an Interstate 85 overpass forced both lanes of the busy interstate to close on March 30. The blaze burned with such intensity that it destroyed the concrete and steel overpass. Construction crews rushed to rebuild the overpass. Prosecutors accused a homeless man of setting the fire but then agreed to transfer his case to a behavioral health treatment court, which raises the possibility that charges against him could be dropped if he completes the program.
— ATLANTA AIRPORT BLACKOUT — A fire burned through electrical equipment at Atlanta’s airport, knocking out the power and also backup electricity for about 11 hours on Dec. 17. The blackout stranded thousands of passengers and led to the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights just ahead of the frenzied holiday travel period.
— GEORGIA POLITICAL FORTUNES — Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Republicans said the June win was proof that Republicans still dominate Georgia politics. But Democrats said Ossoff’s 48 percent showing was evidence that the party made progress toward making Georgia a genuine battleground state. Former Georgia Congressman Tom Price was confirmed as U.S. health secretary but then was forced to resign shortly after a scandal erupted involving his use of expensive charter flights.
— COLLOSSAL STADIUMS — In Atlanta, 2018 saw the opening of the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium after a series of construction delays blamed on problems with its retractable roof. The dramatic implosion of the Georgia Dome next-door flattened one of the nation’s best-known stadiums. Across town, the stadium built for the 1996 Olympic Games that was home to the Atlanta Braves was converted to a college football stadium for Georgia State University. And in the suburbs, the Atlanta Braves opened the brand new SunTrust Park in Cobb County.
— FALCONS FLAME OUT, SOCCER UNITES — The Atlanta Falcons were crushed on football’s biggest stage, allowing the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. After Atlanta gained a 28-3 lead in the third quarter, the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Falcons in overtime, 34-28 on Feb. 5. The same year, the city’s new soccer team Atlanta United amassed a fanatic fan base and shattered multiple Major League Soccer attendance records in the team’s inaugural year.
— SOUTH GEORGIA MURDER MYSTERY — Police in June announced an arrest in one of the state’s most notorious missing-persons cases. Tara Grinstead went missing 12 years ago. No arrests were made until this year, when a tipster contacted authorities with new information. Police in February announced the arrest of Ryan Alexander Duke, a former student at the school where Grinstead taught.
— IRMA — The second-named storm to hit Georgia in less than a year, Irma killed two people and caused at least $300 million in property damage as it cut a wide swath from the Georgia coast to the north Georgia mountains in September. Storm surge flooded hundreds of homes near beaches and marshes, sunk numerous boats and trashed docks on the Georgia coast even though Irma had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm by the time its center crossed the state. After viewing destruction left behind by the storm, Gov. Nathan Deal called it “a catastrophic event.”
— EQUIFAX DATA BREACH — Atlanta-based Equifax struggled for much of the year to deal with one of the most extensive data breaches in history. The 2017 hack exposed the personal information of an estimated 145 million Americans.
— PRISON GUARDS KILLED — Two inmates were accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus in June. Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose were accused of disarming and killing Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue while escaping from the prison transfer bus in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta. Authorities say the pair then carjacked a motorist to get away. They were arrested two days later in Tennessee following a manhunt.
— MIDNIGHT RIDER, R.I.P. — Southern rock icon Gregg Allman died May 27 at the age of 69 at his home near Savannah. He was buried in Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery after a funeral attended by fans and celebrities, including Cher and musicians who played in The Allman Brothers Band.