Interstate 16 forms an intrastate route joining Macon with Savannah in southern Georgia. The primary purpose of the route is to link I-75 with the Port of Savannah to aid in the movement of goods.2 Connecting with Interstate 95 at Pooler, I-16 also provides part of a high-speed route from Atlanta to the Golden Isles and Jacksonville, Florida.
The freeway originates at a directional-T interchange with I-75 at the Ocmulgee River northwest of Downtown Macon. Heading southeast, the freeway serves commuting interests to U.S. 129 (Gray Highway) and U.S. 80 (Coliseum Drive) before quickly leaving the Macon urban area to Lanier Heights near Macon Downtown Airport (MAC).
Beyond Macon, Interstate 16 travels a rural course south and east across forested hills in Twiggs County. Forest stands give way to some agricultural fields as the freeway nears the quad point of Bleckley, Laurens, Twiggs and Wilkinson Counties at the town of Allentown. Advancing eastward, I-16 reaches the outskirts of Dublin, the largest city between Macon and Savannah, before crossing the Oconee River.
East from the river, I-16 winds through more forest land with generous exit less stretches to the city of Metter. Passing south of there, the freeway remains unchanged in character and design, but across increasing areas of wetlands leading to Chatham County.
Suburban expansion adds commuter traffic to Interstate 16 from the Bloomingdale and Pooler areas to the full cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 95. Beyond the busy exchange, I-16 reaches the Savannah city limits, passing by industrial areas to Interstate 516, a north-south spur between Garden City, Hunter Army Airfield and Midtown Savannah. U.S. 17 combines with Interstate 16 beyond I-516 as the freeway makes its final approach to Historic Downtown. Freeway branches from I-16 serve Midtown via Georgia 204 (37th Street Connector) and Hutchinson Island via U.S. 17 & Georgia 404 Spur north to the Talmadge Bridge.
Parallel U.S. Routes
The easternmost segment of formerly transcontinental U.S. 80 follows the Interstate 16 corridor between Macon and Savannah. U.S. 129 Alternate also parallels the freeway south from Lanier Heights outside Macon to Bullard, while the easternmost portion doubles as U.S. 17.
Work to rebuild the 1962 interchange at Interstate 16’s west end is slated for construction between fall 2016 and 2024. The six-phase project was first studied in the early 1980s with preliminary engineering in 1998. $380 million in construction4 will shift the left-hand ramps from I-75 south to I-16 east and from I-16 west to I-75 south to right-hand ramps. Collector distributor roadways will be added including along I-75 south from I-16 to U.S. 41 & GA 19 (Hardeman Avenue / Forsyth Street) and on both sides of I-16 to Exits 1 and 2. Details of the project can be found at the GaDOT I-16/I-75 Improvement Project web site.
East End – Savannah, GA
West End – Macon, GA
Branch Routes – 1
Mileage – 166.81
Cities – Macon, Dublin, Savannah
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 16 eventually opened through the Savannah area on November 24, 1967.2
Construction on the first segment of Interstate 16 started in March 1963 on a 16.2-mile section through Laurens and western Treutlen Counties. The portion between U.S. 319 & 441 and U.S. 221 opened to traffic on October 11, 1966.2
Two alternatives are being studied by the Savannah Planning Commission for the removal of the Interstate 16 spur east from U.S. 17 to Montgomery Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Savannah. These must be submitted to the FHWA and GDOT for final approval. Both call for the dismantling of the freeway lanes and ramps east of U.S. 17 & GA 404 Spur with the addition of two new ramps at the current Georgia 25 Spur partial interchange further north. A boulevard may be built in place of the former I-16, or a new street and wye interchange from I-16. See more on the I-16 Ramp Removal Study here.
There are no official plans to extend Interstate 16 further west. Construction of High Priority Corridor 6/Fall Line Freeway, which includes U.S. 80 west from Geneva to Tuskegee, Alabama, involved building a four-lane divided highway at-grade in Georgia. The Fall Line Freeway is already completed west of Macon. It extends east from U.S. 80 at Geneva along Georgia 96 to Georgia 49 Connector west of Fort Valley. Georgia 49C and Georgia 49 extend the Fall Line Freeway northeast to Exit 149 of Interstate 75 at Byron.
The freeway at Macon was constructed between 1966 and 1968.1 Another 12.5 mile section was completed between U.S. 221 (Exit 78) and U.S. 1 (Exit 90) on December 19, 1977.2 The final section of Interstate 16, through Emanuel, Candler, and Bulloch Counties, opened on September 22, 1978, completing the route between Macon and Savannah.3
East End – Savannah, Georgia
West End – Macon, Georgia
- “10 events that shaped our region.” Macon Telegraph, September 30, 2012.
- Interstate 50th Anniversary Fact of the Day
http://www.interstate50th.org/history/2006-09-22.shtml: “On September 22, 1978, the final segment of I-16 in Georgia – specifically the 25.5 miles spanning Emanuel, Candler, and Bulloch Counties in the Peach State – was opened to traffic. Altogether, that 166.81-mile-long highway stretches from Savannah on the Atlantic coast to I-75 at the city of Macon. The route has the distinction of being only one of 13 two-digit highways in the Interstate System that are both continuous and located only within a single state. Officially named the James Gillis, Sr., Memorial Highway after a longtime Georgia Highway Department director, I-16 is also both an important economic corridor and vital hurricane evacuation route.”
- "Completion near for interstate road systems," Rome News-Tribune, November 14, 1977.
- "I-16/I-75 Interchange construction to start fall 2016." 13WMAZ, November 12, 2015.
Page updated November 13, 2015.