Crews demolish bridge with aim to reopen Georgia interstate

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.

In an update, the Georgia Department of Transportation 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, 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 was to destroy the badly damaged overpass.

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, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “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 (240 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta.