A map shows the areas under a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Michael. (Credit: Georgia Emergency Management Agency)

Georgia DOT: Avoid interstates when evacuating for Hurricane Michael

Georgia transportation officials are urging motorists to avoid congested interstate highways if they’re forced to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Michael.

VIDEO: Hurricane Michael coverage

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall in the Florida panhandle Wednesday.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says residents of Florida and south Georgia should consider heading west out of the storm’s path, not just north, agency spokeswoman Natalie Dale said in a statement released Tuesday. She urged motorists to consult Georgia’s 511 information system, state maps and wayfinding apps to determine the best, least congested route to evacuate.

“Motorists should strongly consider using alternate routes besides interstate highways,” Dale said. “Often during evacuations, interstates are heavily congested while state routes go largely unused.”

The advice comes as Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 92 Georgia counties ahead of Hurricane Michael’s expected landfall Wednesday.

In preparation for the storm, GDOT plans to send work crews from northern and middle Georgia to southern and coastal parts of the state early Wednesday in case they’re needed to clear roads and perform other tasks in the wake of the storm.

The agency also is concentrating its CHAMP roadside assistance patrols on I-75 near the Georgia/Florida border. It also has suspended all construction work in southwest Georgia and all construction on I-95 and I-16 along the coast.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.