Augusta, GA – It’s not the first time a semi-truck has flipped off Interstate 20 into the Augusta canal.
“They need to drive carefully,” Georgia Department of Transportation District 12 Chairman Don Grantham said.
He knows the bridge narrows, but drivers like the one hauling frozen goods early Friday morning who police said fell asleep at the wheel, need to be safe.
Grantham told News Channel 6, “There’s some signage identification indicating coming into that area where it does tighten up. The State of Georgia and the DOT is ready to proceed with the building of the new bridges.”
Grantham adds while the Peach State has the green light, the Palmetto State is waiting on federal funds to get moving.
“South Carolina has not made their commitment as far as their side of it so we can’t start working on the Georgia side until we can be unified together that we can build one bridge and one bridge that’s going to service both states,” he said.
He told us after a recent federal bill passed, South Carolina may budge.
“Federal Transportation Highway Act, which is what they call the FAST Act, has been passed. Funding will flow into the states. We are ready prepared with our matching dollars and I hope South Carolina will be the same way.”
Crews worked all Friday morning and afternoon clearing the 18-wheeler out of the canal. The truck hauling 80,000 pounds of frozen goods, like Bagel Bites, spilled diesel fuel into the main source of drinking water for the area. Augusta Utilities stopped pumping and kicked in the reserves.
Director Tom Wiedmeier said, “We shut them down as soon as we were notified. There’s still a chance that some fuel got into the lines. We’d like to keep it out of the treatment plant so we’re taking precautions so we can capture it when we start pumping again.”
The truck driver was cited for improper lane change before being taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Another car was hit by a piece of the railing, but there were no injuries.
Wiedmeier said pumping is still ongoing. He believes they may have acted fast and avoided diesel fuel going into the water at all. He expects to be back to normal by tonight.