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I-16 lanes reopen in both directions after crews make progress on bridge demolition

Officials reopened westbound lanes by 5 p.m. Friday and crews worked diligently to reopen eastbound lanes shortly before 8:30 p.m.

TREUTLEN COUNTY, Ga. — The span of bridge over I-16 in Treutlen County that shifted six feet when a truck hit it on Thursday was demolished early Friday morning and lanes in both directions reopened that night. 

Crews have been working to clear the area since the incident forced the closure of a section of interstate between Savannah and Macon that's heavily trafficked by freight carriers and vacationers headed to the Georgia coast.

RELATED: I-16 detour | Here's the route you need to take as major highway expected to be closed for days

The bridge span was demolished as of 2:15 a.m., they said. 

"Major progress was made here overnight on the Ga. 86 bridge," GDOT said officials said on Twitter.

The agency posted a video of part of the demolition and pictures of the now-empty airspace above I-16 where the span of bridge once was.

At 11 a.m., GDOT officials said debris is still being removed and all work must be completed before any lanes could reopen. They added that they expect at least one westbound lane to reopen Friday afternoon.

"With the boosted timeline of the bridge going down, we're thinking we can actually have one lane of westbound traffic back open by the traveling public by sometime this afternoon," the official said in the video post.  "Again, the goal is getting westbound moving for savannah heading back toward Dublin and Macon." 

Gov. Brian Kemp joined crews on site to give a progress update on the bridge demolition. 

GDOT District Engineer Corbett Reynolds said crews are ahead of scheduled and were able to get a large amount of the bridge demolished. 

"We made a lot of progress overnight," Reynolds said. "Everything that we kind of put in place thinking it may be a problem has really gone our way. About the only problem we had was a little thunderstorm yesterday." 

Officials reopened westbound lanes by 5 p.m. Friday and crews worked diligently to reopen eastbound lanes shortly before 8:30 p.m.

In a tweet, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said I-16 was open in both directions but did not specify how many lanes were open. 

Yesterday, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said the plan is to open one lane westbound from Savannah to Macon by Sunday and open lane eastbound by Monday. 

McMurry said depending on how the demolition goes, I-16 is expected to fully re-open by mid to late next week.

Credit: GDOT

RELATED: Georgia bridge over I-16 to be demolished after truck crashes, shifts it six feet

It's unclear if the demolition by Friday morning could speed up that timetable.

"We do not yet have a time to replace the bridge over I-16, which is State Route 86. It is a very minor state route that only has about 200 to 300 cars on it per day," McMurry said Thursday. 

All lanes east and westbound are currently closed between Exits 71 and 78 in Treutlen County, between Savannah and Macon.