ATLANTA, Ga. – Hurricane Michael is currently a category 4 major hurricane expected to make landfall along the Florida panhandle this afternoon and then accelerate northeast over southwest and into middle Georgia tonight. Today, Governor Nathan Deal extended the state of emergency declaration to seven days for 92 counties located in the south and coastal areas of Georgia to provide for emergency assistance in anticipation of Hurricane Michael and its effects on the counties in its path.
Georgia DOT has prepared on a statewide level in partnership with the Governor’s Office, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and state and local officials. The traveling public’s safety is a top priority as Georgia DOT readies for tropical storm or hurricane conditions including torrential rainfall, strong winds with potential to knock down trees and power lines and possible tornadoes that will affect much of north and central Georgia this afternoon and this evening – well ahead of the arrival of the center of the storm.
Maintaining roads and bridges is essential before, during and after the storm. With major inland impacts expected in southern and coastal Georgia, GDOT has deployed Special Response Teams including 400 responders in southwest Georgia and 400 responders in coastal Georgia. Based on the expected path of the storm, impacts are also expected in central Georgia, where GDOT has deployed 175 responders in east central and 175 responders in west central Georgia.
GDOT has also deployed eight Bridge Inspection Teams in areas expected to be most impacted by Michael. In anticipation of gale-force winds, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10 GDOT will close the Sidney Lanier Bridge on US 17/SR 25 in Glynn County and close the Talmadge Bridge located in Chatham County at 9 p.m. The bridges are being closed for the safety of the traveling public. As the storm continues to move east/northeast, teams will monitor the need for other bridge closures in coastal Georgia.
As Hurricane Michael continues to intensify prior to making landfall, GDOT is relocating crews at the Georgia/Florida state line back to safer locations. Once the worst of the storm passes, Special Response Teams will reenter the southernmost parts of the state to assess and respond to damage.
GDOT is responsible for over 26,000 lane miles of road in areas that will be potentially affected by Hurricane Michael. Statewide, Georgia DOT crews are prepared to deploy as needed.
- GDOT’s Transportation Management Center is monitoring traffic conditions statewide.
- GDOT crews in the northern and middle parts of the state have deployed from GDOT Districts 1, 2, 3 and 6 to southern and coastal Georgia to assist local crews.
- GDOT has enacted more heavily concentrated CHAMP patrols on portions of I-75 and I-95.
- Motorists traveling on interstates and state routes should be wary of the possibility of falling trees due to high winds. GDOT is actively engaged in the removal of trees and overgrown brush along state rights-of-way in an effort to mitigate the possibility of falling trees across roadways, a particular danger during hurricanes and tropical storms.
- Motorists should strongly consider using alternate routes besides interstate highways. Often during evacuations, interstates are heavily congested while state routes go largely unused. State routes are a viable alternative to interstates. Consult 511, state maps and wayfinding apps to determine the best, least congested route to ensure your safe evacuation. Evacuation route map
- Those evacuating from Florida and south Georgia should consider heading west out of the storm’s path. Heading north into Georgia is not the only option.
- All construction work that negatively affects travel on the interstates and evacuation routes within the affected Districts has been suspended until 7 p.m. Friday. This includes GDOT District 3 (west central Georgia), GDOT District 4 (southwest Georgia) and GDOT District 5 (southeast Georgia).
“We urge motorists to pay attention to warnings and advisories to stay off the roads due to the potential for tornadoes, extreme high winds, flash flooding and downed trees,” said GDOT’s Director of Emergency Operations Bryan Haines.
Georgia DOT’s maintenance staff and bridge inspectors will be available to regularly patrol the interstates, state roadways and bridges to assist in identifying potential hazards or negative impacts to travel. In the event that flooding occurs, crews will have to wait until water recedes to assess the situation. If motorists see flash flooding, trees down or other obstructions on roadways or bridges impeding travel, they are urged to contact 511 and speak with an operator to report the incidents.
The public is urged to take shelter as the system passes through the state. Major concerns for motorists are high winds, the potential for falling and downed trees, flooding and flash flooding, downed power lines, and possible road and bridge closures. If significant flooding occurs, the public is advised not to drive around barricades that are in place for motorist’s safety. Please treat non-operational signals as a four-way stop. Additionally, the public should monitor local radio and TV stations for the latest details on weather conditions and possible evacuations.
GDOT Special Response Teams approach their roles to ensure they remain safe. They will begin clearing impacted roadways once the worst of the storm passes, and will clear priority routes first to ensure the public maintains access to hospitals, trauma centers and other public facilities.
For real-time road conditions, call 511 or visit Georgia511. For weather information, visit the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida, or the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia.
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.