TIFTON, GA (WALB) - With much of Florida under a state of emergency, residents are heading north by the thousands and it could impact traffic in southwest Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is preparing the state's evacuation routes. Officials expect heavy traffic congestion in the next few days.
"We expect a great number of evacuees coming from Florida," said Nita Birmingham, communication officer for District 4. "I think, all the local stations have been running stories that all the hotels are full, I think they said up through Macon, so that right there tells you, what we can expect coming this way."
Earlier this week, GDOT contractors opened all northbound lanes on Interstate 75, including at Exit 29 in Hahira where concrete barriers were blocking one of the northbound lanes for construction work. Crews were asked to wait to install concrete barriers at Exit 22 at North Valdosta Road, until the storm threat passes.
Crews also began sweeping the shoulders of I-75 to clear them of debris. GDOT wants to make sure emergency lanes remain open to drivers and keep storm drains clear.
"When we get clogged drains, we have a potential of having water over the roadways, and we certainly don't need that in combination with the traffic we expect that we're going to see," said Birmingham.
Officials encourage those evacuating to consider alternative evacuation routes through southwest Georgia. They also ask those traveling through Georgia to plan ahead for possible traffic delays in the next few days.
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