Hurricane Michael: Savannah’s Talmadge Bridge closing to all traffic Wednesday night

Besides wrecks, winds can close the Savannah Bridge. Here are alternate routes

Here are other routes to use when the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge is closed.
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Here are other routes to use when the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge is closed.

Talmadge Bridge, which connects Savannah to South Carolina’s Lowcountry, will be closed to all traffic starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Anticipated “gale-force winds” related to Hurricane Michael will make the bridge dangerous for drivers, the agency said in a news release.

“Motorists attempting to navigate vehicles across the bridge in conditions with the high wind levels anticipated from Hurricane Michael may not be able to properly control the vehicles. The bridge is being closed for the safety of the public,” the news release said.

After the storm passes, the Talmadge Bridge will be inspected, so a reopening time was not available, officials said.

On Wednesday morning, Category 4 Hurricane Michael was just off the Florida Panhandle and expected to make landfall in the afternoon before sweeping across Georgia and South Carolina as a tropical storm over the following 24 hours.

Sustained winds of 20-40 mph and gusts of 40-50 mph are possible, according to the National Weather Service.

“Travel on elevated roads and bridges, especially high profile, could be an issue here,” Ron Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, warned in a Tuesday briefing.

On Hilton Head Island, bridges would be closed only if an evacuation with lane reversals was ordered, The Island Packet reported in coverage of previous storm threats.

No evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina for Hurricane Michael.

If sustained wind speeds reach tropical storm force of 39 mph, regular patrol vehicles — the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department’s Dodge Chargers and Ford Explorers — will be unable to cross bridges, Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, director of the county’s emergency management division, told The Island Packet for a story published Sept. 13 during preparations for Hurricane Florence.

“All drivers are encouraged to avoid causeways and bridges with wind speeds that high,” Capt. Bob Bromage, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation announced that it would close all moveable bridges to marine traffic at 4 p.m. Wednesday.