SOPERTON, Ga. — Interstate 16 has been shut down in both directions between Exit 71 and Exit 78 in Treutlen County after a large truck struck an overpass July 15. About 21,000 vehicles travel the stretch of highway between Macon and Savannah each day, including commercial trucks going to and from the Port of Savannah.
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), between 1 and 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a truck hauling a large dump trailer filled with large tires hit the bridge that carries State Route 86 across I-16, shifting the structure nearly 6 feet. GDOT engineers and contractors are on site evaluating the damage.
A Twitter post by GDOT East Traffic noted that the truck was traveling with its trailer lifted in a nearly vertical position. It was not clear why the trailer was raised.
According to a spokesman for GDOT, the State Route 86 bridge will need to be demolished before I-16 can be reopened to single lanes of traffic in both directions. Demolition is expected to continue for at least a week.
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
Detours are in place; however, motorists are encouraged to find an alternate route if possible because of anticipated traffic volumes along the detours. Alternates for truckers include Georgia State Route 297 and U.S. 1.
Drivers who are unable to avoid the area should follow these routes:
- Eastbound: Take Exit 71 from I-16. Turn right onto State Route 15. Go through the town of Soperton and turn left onto State Route 46; then turn left onto State Route 56. Re-enter I-16 at Exit 78.
- Westbound: Take Exit 78 from I-16. Turn right onto U.S. 221 North and then turn left onto U.S. 80 West. Go through the town of Adrian and turn left onto State Route 15. Re-enter I-16 at Exit 71.
Visit http://511ga.org for updates to the detour routes.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said Thursday there is no estimated time for the reopening of I-16. Demolition of the bridge is expected to begin Thursday or Friday.
McMurry said GDOT will first work to restore westbound traffic along I-16 to help the movement of freight from the Port of Savannah.
“Our goal is to, obviously, have this bridge removed so I-16 traffic can be restored as quickly as possible,” McMurry told the state transportation board Thursday.