Interstate 16 or I -16 is an Interstate Highway in the United States, located entirely in the southeastern state of Georgia. The highway runs from Macon to the coastal city of Savannah. It is the main arterial route from Atlanta to the Atlantic coast. Interstate 16 is 268 kilometers long.
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I-16 at Savannah.
Interstate 16 begins in the town of Macon at an interchange with Interstate 75. This is about 80 miles south of Atlanta. I-16 narrows almost immediately to 2×2 lanes and heads east through rural areas. The area is heavily wooded and flat, making the journey monotonous. There are no other large towns between Macon and Savannah, just two smaller regional towns such as Dublin and Statesboro. In this region, several north-south running US Highways are crossed, which, however, often have relatively little significance for through traffic. Parallel to I-16 runs US 80. I-16 has a number of forks in the central reservation on the eastern part, where it widens a lot for a few kilometers. The urban area of Savannah is reached after more than 250 kilometers. Here is an interchange with Interstate 95, and further into the city there is another interchange with Interstate 516. After this, I-16 becomes US 17 along Downtown Savannah.
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I-16 can be used as a counterflow route. During hurricane evacuations, all lanes heading west can be used to evacuate the city of Savannah and the surrounding coastal region.
Contraflow is only used for large-scale evacuations of the coastal area, especially the city of Savannah. Traffic can use westbound I-16 on both lanes from Chatham Parkway in Savannah. Contraflow runs west to just past Dublin, where there is a crossover to the regular carriageway. The route with counterflow is 193 kilometers long. It is possible to exit I-16 on the ‘wrong’ lane at several connections, but not at I-95. All exits can be reached on the regular roadway.
The counterflow implementation was designed after the chaotic evacuation of Savannah in 1999 due to approaching Hurricane Floyd. Contraflow was first deployed in 2016 during the evacuation due to approaching Hurricane Matthew.
The highway is signposted as I-16. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has also assigned administrative number SR-404 to the route. This is not signposted and is usually only used in technical documents.
I-16 at Statesboro.
Before the construction of I-16, US 80 was the primary link between Macon and Savannah. At that time, several routes could be envisioned between the Atlanta and Savannah region. The US 80 has not been developed to a high standard for the construction of I-16.
The first section of I-16 opened in about 1965, between US 319 at Dublin and Rockledge, a stretch of approximately 16 miles, halfway between Macon and Savannah. In about 1966 this stretch was extended westward for some 12 miles as far as Montrose. At the same time, the first few kilometers along the center of Macon were opened. Circa 1967, the easternmost section opened, between Blitchton and Savannah for about 39 kilometers. In about 1968 the highway was extended southeast from Macon to Dry Branch, a stretch of approximately 15 kilometers. About 1971 a stretch opened from Jeffersonville to Montrose for about 15 miles.
The western link was closed in 1973, when a stretch from Dry Branch to Jeffersonville was opened for 12 miles. I-16 was then accessible from Macon to Rockledge, and from Pembroke to Savannah. About 1975, the missing link shortened when I-16 in eastern Georgia was extended both east and west. In 1977 the highway was completed from Statesboro to Savannah. On September 22, 1978, the final link opened for some 40 miles between Norristown and Statesboro, completing the highway. This also marked the completion of Georgia’s original 1955 Interstate Highway plan.
The dates below are indicative
|Macon||Dry Branch||15 km||00-00-1968|
|Dry Branch||Jeffersonville||19 km||00-00-1973|
In 2000, along the highway, as on all highways in Georgia, the sequential exit numbers were replaced with exit numbering according to the milestones.
Between 2019 and 2022, the interchange with I-95 near Savannah was reconstructed. This was originally a cloverleaf without shunting lanes but is fitted with flyovers for the busiest turning connections. During this period, the highway at Savannah was widened from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes between I-95 and I-516.
I-16 was constructed by Macon with outdated design requirements. Work began in June 2017 to reconstruct I-16 in Macon and the interchange with I-75 at a cost of $500 million. The interchange has been drastically reconstructed and expanded, and I-16 has been given a parallel structure to make weaving easier. The first phase of work was completed in mid-2021, but other phases have been completed from 2021 to the east side of Macon.
Every day, 79,000 vehicles pass the I-75 interchange in Macon, then drop to 44,000 vehicles in eastern Macon and mostly 18,000 to 24,000 vehicles on the rural stretch between Macon and Savannah. This increases closer to Savannah to 39,000 vehicles just off I-95 and 59,000 vehicles between I-95 and I-516 near downtown Savannah.
|exit 0||Exit 164||2×2|
|Exit 164||Exit 167||2×3||Savannah|
I-16 is often referred to as the dullest Interstate Highway in the United States. Almost the entire route leads through flat, densely wooded area with no view. There are also no interruptions such as large urban areas, wider stretches or large junctions. The region is not as densely forested as the view from I-16 suggests, but there is a lot of planting, so that in areas with meadows there is still little view and driving on I-16 is experienced as very monotonous.