Valdosta Daily Times

December 31, 2013

DOT says damaged overpass is safe

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Georgia Department of Transportation will be making repairs to the overpass damaged by a tractor-trailer collision but says the bridge remains structurally sound.

Inspectors with GDOT were immediately called to the scene Saturday after a tractor-trailer carrying grocery items and cooking oil struck a support column of the Old Clyattville Road bridge crossing Interstate 75 at Exit 13 and burst into flames. The bridge was closed to traffic for several hours while firefighters battled the fire, and inspectors investigated the integrity of the bridge.

“The bridge is structurally sound. It was inspected the day of the accident,” said Jerry Smith, permit inspector with the GDOT’s Valdosta office. “There will be some minor repairs to make due to the vehicle’s impact and heat. The bridge is not in danger of falling.”

Repairs have yet to be scheduled, and inspections from other teams may occur before work begins, according to Nita Birmingham, communications specialist with GDOT. The department plans to notify the public of any repairs that will require lane closures or restrict access to the Old Clyattville Road bridge.

The repairs will address the minor damage done to the structure as well as some significant discoloration to the bridge and its signs, said Birmingham. Small impact craters were left in one of the bridge’s support columns, and the majority of the bridge was blackened by fire and smoke.

Damage to telecommunication cables installed underneath the bridge will be repaired by AT&T, according to Birmingham.

Troy Lee Whitt, 43, of Winter Springs, Fla., was killed in the incident when the tractor-trailer he was driving hit the support columns of the bridge and was quickly engulfed in flames.