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Crews demolish bridge with aim to reopen Georgia interstate

Crews demolish bridge with aim to reopen Georgia interstate
In this July 16 photo, crews work to remove debris from a just-demolished I-16 bridge near Soperton, Ga. The structure was heavily damaged by a tractor-trailer July 15. Motorists are encouraged to find an alternate route when traveling in this area. (Courtesy: Georgia Department of Transportation, via Twitter)

SOPERTON, Ga. — Crews have demolished a damaged overpass above a Georgia interstate and are hauling away the debris with the aim of reopening the road soon, authorities said Friday, July 16.

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The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) said crews worked through the night to break up the overpass and will remove its remains Friday.

Authorities said they hope to reopen Interstate 16, which connects much of Georgia to its coastline and the Port of Savannah, by next week after a crash knocked the overpass bridge from its support beams. Officials decided the fastest and safest way to reopen I-16 is to destroy the badly damaged overpass and replace it.

A short stretch of the interstate was 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, GDOT commissioner. “It appears that it was raised, which then struck the bridge.”

The plan is to open one of the westbound lanes — Savannah to Macon — by Sunday and one of the eastbound lanes by Monday, McMurry said.

By late next week, officials hope to have all lanes in both directions reopened.

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 southeast of Atlanta.

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