Work could begin Friday to reopen I-16 lane damaged in 27-vehicle pileup

Telegraph staffFebruary 7, 2013 

One westbound lane of Interstate 16 will remain closed until crews can make road repairs near the scene of Wednesday’s 27-vehicle pileup that killed four people near the Bleckley/Laurens border.

Crissy Mc Nure, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation, announced Thursday afternoon that contractors hope to begin repairs Friday and will finish Saturday, if weather permits them to fix damage in the right lane of the rural stretch of highway near mile marker 7.

Engineers will inspect the damage to the concrete on that section of road because of the fire and heat it was exposed to during the crash.

The work is expected to take two days and motorists are urged to use caution in the work zone.

Also Thursday, Georgia State Patrol officials announced that the GSP’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team in Reidsville has taken over the investigation.

Officials said the initial crash reports are expected to be turned in over the next few days.

There have been no changes in the numbers GSP officials released regarding the accident -- 10 separate crashes involving 27 vehicles stretching over a quarter-mile area, four fatalities and nine injuries.

Earlier Thursday, GSP operator Terri Graffagnino said a trooper was out all night checking for lingering smoke from controlled burns after reduced visibility early Wednesday led to chain-reaction collisions near Montrose.

Vapors in an empty tanker truck exploded, sending thick, choking, black smoke into the sky.

Four hours after the accidents, smoke was still rising from a burned pine tree near the tanker wreckage.

The trooper patrolled overnight from mile markers 36 to 54, where fog routinely gets thick, she said.

He has also been cruising nearby roads to make sure there is no danger.

Wednesday, a dense fog advisory was posted at the time of the collisions.

Officials think a nearby controlled burn led to smoke that helped decrease visibility even further. Wendy Burnett, public relations specialist with the Georgia Forestry Commission, said Thursday that the landowner had the correct permits and officials from the commission are investigating the fire further.

Funeral arrangements for the four victims -- including Dublin couple Clayton Warnock, 81, and Josephine Warnock, 74 -- weren’t available Thursday.

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