Contra-Flow Lanes: I-16 One-Way Driving Guides

Normally, Interstate 16 carries east and westbound traffic. In the event of a mandatory evacuation from coastal Georgia, I-16 eastbound lanes will become “contra-flow lanes,” or reverse lanes. All I-16 lanes will be westbound traffic only from Savannah to west of U.S. 441 in Dublin, a total of 125 miles. Georgia DOT also can “contra flow” other interstates in the case of emergencies..

I-16 One-Way Operation Directions

In order to provide more roadway capacity during hurricane evacuations from the coast, portions of I-16 will operate entirely in the Westbound direction, meaning both Eastbound lanes of I-16 will be converted into Westbound lanes. These are called contra-flo lanes.

Two median crossovers have been constructed to allow motorists traveling in the normal Westbound lanes to transition to the contra-flow lanes for evacuation. One crossover is located just east of Chatham Parkway (mile post 162) and the second one is located just west of SR 307/Dean Forest Road (mile post 158). Care should be taken when using the crossovers.

There is normal access to all surface roads from the regular Westbound lanes. Additionally, for your convenience, the following exits will be available to motorists choosing to travel in the contra-flow lanes (normal Eastbound lanes converted to Westbound lanes).

The Interstate can be re-entered only by using the regular Westbound entrance ramps. However, in Savannah, there are several points where the Eastbound exit ramps will be converted into Westbound entrance ramps. These ramps will provide extra access into the contra-flow lanes. The ramps are:

The one-way operation of I-16 will end west of Dublin. To end the one-way operation, traffic west of US 441 will be merged into a single lane in both the normal Westbound lanes and the contra-flow lanes. A median crossover has been constructed to take the traffic from the contra-flow lane back to the normal Westbound lanes. See diagram below.

From the crossover point Westward, I-16 will function as normal into Macon.

What you can Expect

With the improvements to the I-16 one-way plan, your trip will be smoother than during the Hurricane Floyd evacuation in 1999. However:

  1. Evacuation speeds will still be slow.
  2. The travel time for the trip from Savannah/the coast will be longer than normal.
  3. You can exit at numerous locations prior to the end of the one-way section of I-16.
  4. You must have a full tank of gas.
  5. You must be prepared by having all personal needs, medications, water, snacks, etc.
  6. SR 21, US 80 and SR 204 are also evacuation routes from Chatham County and should be considered.