Overpass demolished overnight; all lanes of I-16 reopen in Treutlen Co.

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 12:23 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 16, 2021 at 10:52 PM EDT
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TREUTLEN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Interstate 16 was closed in both directions in Treutlen County after a truck hit an overpass.

The Latest:

FRIDAY, 7/16

Westbound and lanes of I-16 reopened Friday in Treutlen County about 30 miles west of Metter. A truck traveling along I-16 crashed into an overpass Thursday, shifting it six feet.

GDOT says the bridge was completely demolished Thursday night.

Both westbound lanes of I-16 reopened around 5 p.m. Friday. According to GDOT, eastbound lanes could be open by midnight Friday.

There is no time frame for how long it will take to replace the Hwy 86 bridge.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp visited the site on Friday and took a minute to speak about the process.

Here’s the latest tweet update from GDOT - posted Friday morning at 11 a.m.

Georgia DOT says they’ve never seen or heard of a crash like this doing so much damage.

Heavy equipment moved the tons of concrete, steel beams and rebar that were the Highway 86 overpass. As some crews tackled the cleanup, engineers were already measuring to design a new bridge. Governor Brian Kemp came to see the damage for himself. He says the message to the Georgia DOT was simple.

“Tell us anything you need. Throw everything we’ve got at this and let’s get this interstate open as quick as we can,” said Gov. Kemp.

The detours have thousands of cars and trucks pulling through nearby Soperton on one side and Adrian on the other. Crews hope to have some of that back here soon.

“Getting two lanes open westbound is the first priority. So hopefully tonight or tomorrow we have full traffic going westbound. A single lane eastbound will follow either Saturday or Sunday,” said Kyle Collins with Georgia Department of Transportation.

Troopers say the tractor trailer crash that shifted the bridge six feet off its base remains under investigation with charges pending against the driver. The governor says the main focus is getting a stretch of the state’s economic pipeline back open and running.

“Traffic going to and from the port is vitally important, especially if you’re a merchant.”

THURSDAY, 7/15

Interstate 16 is closed in both directions in Treutlen County after a truck hit an overpass, and will likely remain closed through the weekend.

Westbound and eastbound lanes are closed between exits 71 and 78. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, a truck collided with the I-16 overpass on State Highway 86 and caused it to shift off the support beams.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says there were no injuries in the wreck.

GDOT shared pictures of the incident on social media right after it happened.

GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said in a news conference Thursday afternoon the work to get the interstate safely reopened will take several days as the bridge will have to be demolished.

“Our plan is to open one lane westbound by Sunday morning (July 18),” Commissioner McMurry says. “Then by Monday, have one lane eastbound open on I-16. We expect that the full reopening of I-16 will occur by mid-to-late next week, weather permitting and lots of factors of complication with demolition.”

GDOT says demolition on the bridge on State Highway 86 will begin Thursday evening.

See Commissioner McMurry and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s full comments below:

Gov. Kemp on I-16 closure

#WATCH: An update on the overpass hit by a truck that has I-16 closed in Treutlen County. >>> https://bit.ly/3ibSWyt

Posted by WTOC-TV on Thursday, July 15, 2021

GDOT has set detour routes for drivers heading both directions.

Eastbound Detour: Take Exit 71 – Turn Right onto Highway 15, through Soperton, Left onto State Route 46, Left onto SR 56, Re-Enter I-16 at Exit 78

Westbound Detour: Take Exit 78 - Turn Right onto Highway 221 North, Left onto US 80 West, go through town of Adrian, Left onto SR 15, Re-Enter I-16 at Exit 71

McMurry estimates approximately 21,000 vehicles per day will be using these detours, so GDOT is asking drivers to use patience and caution.

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