No timetable set to re-open I-16 lane
Feb 07, 2013 (The Macon Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
One westbound lane of Interstate 16 remains closed near the scene of Wednesday's 27-vehicle pileup that killed four people near the Bleckley/Laurens border.
Kimberly Larson, communications officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation's District 3 office, said Thursday afternoon that the right lane of the rural stretch of highway from mile markers 38 to 36 will be closed indefinitely until officials can inspect the damage to the road. That process was slowed Thursday because of heavy rain in the area.
She said engineers must inspect the damage to the concrete on that section of road because of the fire and heat it was exposed to during the crash.
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.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.
___ (c)2013 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.) Visit The Macon Telegraph (Macon,
Ga.) at www.macon.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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