SOPERTON – Authorities reopened a seven-mile stretch of heavily traveled Interstate 16 in both directions this weekend, after crews made quick work of demolishing a bridge overpass on Treutlen County that was badly damaged by a crash.
Westbound traffic on 16 resumed Friday evening, state transportation officials said. The Georgia Department of Public Safety tweeted that eastbound traffic began flowing later on the vital trade route to and from the Southeast ports and tourist beaches.
“I-16 is now open in both directions," the tweet said, congratulating Georgia's Department of Transportation for swift work in demolishing the damaged overpass that crossed over the interstate.
The DOT said crews worked through the night to break up the overpass and removed its remains Friday. The work went more quickly than expected and were able to reopen 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.
The stretch of the interstate that was closed in both directions after a tractor-trailer hit the overpass Thursday is between Exit 71 – Soperton, Adrian, and Exit 78 – Swainsboro, Soperton. Detours were set up on nearby roads to reroute traffic back to 16 in both directions.
“Apparently, the tractor-trailer has a dump bed similar to a dump truck,” McMurry said. “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.