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SC News

Georgia Interstate to Reopen Earlier Than Expected

Georgia Interstate Bridge
AP
/
GDOT
In this photo released by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the SR 86 bridge is inspected over Interstate 16 in Treutlen County, Ga., Thursday, July 15, 2021. The Interstate is shut down in both directions from Exit 71 to Exit 78 due to a large dump trailer hitting the SR 86 bridge and shifting it nearly six feet. (GDOT via AP)

Authorities say they hope to reopen a stretch of Georgia interstate earlier than anticipated after crews made quick work of demolishing a damaged overpass Friday.

The goal now is for some westbound traffic on Interstate 16 to resume as early as Friday night, state transportation officials said at briefing. Then, some traffic will be allowed in the opposite direction by Saturday.

Repairs to the overpass went much more quickly than anticipated, said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who flew to the site by helicopter to brief reporters on the progress.

"Really, this team is getting it done a lot quicker than we ever thought it would," Kemp said.

Earlier, officials had said they hoped to reopen I-16, which connects much of Georgia to its coastline, by late next week after a crash knocked the overpass bridge from its support beams. Officials decided the fastest and safest way to reopen the intestate was to destroy the badly damaged overpass and replace it.

A short stretch of the interstate has been closed in both directions after a tractor-trailer hit the overpass Thursday. Detours have been set up on nearby roads.

"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."

The investigation into the crash is in its early stages, but "there are going to be some charges coming," said Lt Col. William Hitchens III of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. He didn't specify what those charges would be, saying that's still under review.

Interstate 16 is the main route used by many people from metro Atlanta who travel south to Macon and then take it toward Savannah and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The bridge is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta.