aerial photo showing a damaged highway overpass struck by a truck

A truck hit the Ga. Highway 86 bridge over Interstate 16, displacing the bridge by more than six feet. The bridge has since been demolished.

Credit: Larry Morris / Georgia Department of Transportation

Both westbound lanes of Interstate 16 reopened Friday afternoon after a truck damaged a bridge and shut down a stretch of the highway through Middle Georgia on Thursday.

Crews demolished the damaged bridge over I-16 near Soperton early Friday and worked all day to remove the debris.


Lanes of traffic for westward drivers have opened, and Georgia Department of Transportation officials said they hoped to fully open the highway overnight.

Still, while the work is underway, GDOT regional spokesman Kyle Collins advised drivers to use a GPS app to get through or around the area between Exit 71 and Exit 78.

“Plan a little bit more time — 30 minutes to an hour, a little bit more, if you’re still traveling in the vicinity just because of the volumes," he said.

Because the detours are on smaller state routes, it was slow going in some spots on Friday.

Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp visited the site Friday afternoon after the bridge was down. They talked with workers removing rubble from the demolished bridge and thanked local officials and law enforcement for their handling of the traffic.

"We appreciate the citizens being patient; we're gonna try to get this thing rolling," Kemp said, stressing the importance of both port and tourism traffic.

Kemp and local leaders commended GDOT for quick removal of the bridge.

State troopers said they're working with federal law enforcement to investigate the incident and said they expect to file unspecified charges against the driver.

I-16 is the main highway between Macon and Savannah and a major thoroughfare for travelers as well as trucks traveling to and from the Port of Savannah.

A truck carrying tires struck the GA-86 bridge over I-16 on Thursday, displacing the bridge by more than six feet and forcing the shutdown of the highway.