SOPERTON, Ga. -- Authorities say they 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.
Crews plan to demolish the overpass above Interstate 16 so they can reopen that key route by next week, the Georgia Department of Transportation said. A short stretch of the interstate was closed in both directions following Thursday’s crash. Detours hae been set up on nearby roads.
At a news conference Thursday, authorities said a semi on I-16 was hauling a trailer with a dumping mechanism that was extended upwards, causing it to strike the bridge above.
“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 agency shared photos on social media that show the bridge dislodged from its concrete base.
The quickest way to reopen the interstate is to essentially demolish the damaged bridge above it, McMurry said.
“If everything goes right, we’ll start tearing the bridge apart tonight,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said at Thursday's briefing.
The plan is for one of the westbound lanes — Savannah to Macon — to be open by Sunday, McMurry said. Then, one of the eastbound lanes would be open by Monday.
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 from the city to Macon, and then use I-16 to get to Savannah and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The bridge is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta.