Georgia DOT prepares for potential Hurricane Irma impact, evacuation plans, contraflow lanes

Press Release from Georgia Department of Transportation

ATLANTA, GA – Following a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials and local Emergency Management Agencies, Gov. Nathan Deal today issued a state of emergency for 30 counties in Georgia in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. The emergency declaration includes Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware counties. The Governor has also issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by potential storm surge from Hurricane Irma.

Flying through the eye of the storm. Hurricane Irma. Photo by NOAA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In preparation for the influx of traffic, Georgia DOT and Georgia State Patrol will work together to contraflow Interstate 16 from Savannah through US 441 in Dublin to allow evacuation traffic the opportunity to use all four lanes in the westbound direction.  This will double the westbound capacity on this section of the interstate to better accommodate the volume of traffic expected from evacuations of Florida and coastal Georgia.

“Working in concert with Governor Deal’s office and GEMA, we at Georgia DOT have been preparing for Hurricane Irma,” said Russell R. McMurry, P.E., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We have aligned our manpower, supplies and resources to ensure that evacuation traffic continues to flow as smoothly as possible, and to enable us to deploy our personnel to areas of the state that are most affected by the storm and its aftermath.”

To accommodate increased volume, beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 9, barricades will be in place on I-16 eastbound at SR 26 in Laurens County to begin the contraflow process.  A median crossover on I-16 east of I-95 will cross traffic over onto I-16 eastbound lanes to travel westbound.

All eastbound access at interchanges will be blocked from Dublin to Savannah on I-16 during the contraflow process.  Travelers may exit contraflow lanes at the following locations:

  • Exit 143 @ SR 30/US 280
  • Exit 116 @ SR 73/US 301
  • Exit 104 @SR 23/SR 121
  • Exit 90 @ SR 4/US 1
  • Exit 71 @SR 15/SR 78
  • Exit 67 @ SR 29
  • US 51 @ SR 31/US 319/US 441

A crossover on I-16 at SR 26 (MP 38) in Laurens County will direct traffic back to regular westbound lanes prior to arrival in Macon. All westbound exits will remain open after Dublin.

To further assist motorists, beginning Saturday Georgia DOT will redeploy 20 Highway Emergency Response Operators (HEROs) to I-16 to assist with contraflow and traffic management. In addition, beginning on Friday morning, 15 Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) operators will be deployed to I-95 and I-75 between Florida and Macon to assist with flow of evacuation traffic from Florida and the Georgia coast.

Motorists with a Peach Pass or Florida Sun Pass should note that the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes in Henry and Clayton counties are open to northbound traffic throughout today.

For additional information and resources:

  • For current roadway conditions, or to report roadway conditions: or dial 511
  • For roadway information and evacuation routes, visit Georgia DOT at
  • For emergency information and updates: GEMA/HS at
  • For information on emergency shelters, visit American Red Cross at
  • For news alerts and information from throughout the state, visit
  • For a HERO or CHAMP Operator: Dial 511 and request assistance
To learn how motorists access and use the contraflow lanes, watch this.
 The Georgia Department of Transportation is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to both its citizens and its environment. Particularly in times of crisis, Georgia DOT stands at the ready to serve the public. 


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