SOPERTON, Ga. – Georgia transportation officials said hope to reopen an interstate that connects much of Georgia to its coastline by next week after a crash knocked a bridge overpass from its support beams.
A truck driving on Interstate 16 in Treutlen County struck the overpass, causing the bridge to shift about six feet. The Georgia Department of Transportation shared photos on social media that show the bridge dislodged from its concrete base.
“Apparently, the tractor-trailer has a dump bed similar to a dump truck,” said Russell McMurry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “It appears that it was raised, which then struck the bridge.”
I-16 bridge demo crew mobilizing to work around the clock to return traffic to interstate lanes ASAP. Stay tuned to thread. Will update when we have good info. pic.twitter.com/ECXz4ad2Ys— GDOT East Traffic (@GDOTEastTraffic) July 15, 2021
Traffic will be detoured around I-16 between exits 71 and 78 for at least several days while the bridge is demolished and rebuilt.
GDOT said engineers were already bringing in heavy equipment to demolish and replace part of the bridge. In the best-case scenario, state officials hope to reopen one westbound lane by Sunday morning and one eastbound lane by Monday. It will likely take a full week before all lanes are open again.
“If everything goes right, we’ll start tearing the bridge apart tonight,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said at Thursday’s briefing.
I-16 is the main route between metro Atlanta, Savannah and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
While traffic is only detoured off seven miles of I-16, the eastbound detour is 10 miles and the westbound detour is 24 miles -- both through small towns not prepared to deal with this volume of traffic.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The initial reporting Thursday said the truck was on I-16 and went through the guardrail. That was incorrect, as the truck was driving under GA-86 overpass when with its bed raised when it struck the bridge.