The rubble of a key I-95 bridge north of Philadelphia destroyed by a tanker-truck fire on June 11 has been removed and work is underway to build a temporary roadway replacement as plans for a permanent structural repair are formulated.
[Above photo by PennDOT]
“When I visited this site just a few hours after the fire and collapse, I made it clear that my administration would lead a coordinated response to reopen I-95 safely and as efficiently as possible,” noted Governor Josh Shapiro (D) in a statement. “Getting I-95 repaired and reopened is our top priority – and we are working our tails off. We are moving full steam ahead.”
[Editor’s note: The governor and PennDOT have established a live video feed to track the progress in real time of the I-95 bridge rebuild project: https://www.pa.gov/i95updates.]
In consultation with engineers from the Federal Highway Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has hired a contractor – Philadelphia-based contractor Buckley & Company – to backfill the gap in the roadway created by the collapsed bridge, so that it can be paved over and reopened safely and as quickly as possible.
Once complete, cars and trucks can return to this portion of I-95 as crews work to rebuild a permanent bridge while keeping six lanes of traffic flowing at all times, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said.
“There has been tremendous amounts of work occurring with people that are very talented and engineers that are able to design a forward-looking structure that meets the immediate needs of this community [and] this city, while also making sure that we have a structure that will serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for decades,” he added.
FHWA has also issued PennDOT $3 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief funds to support highway traffic “mitigation efforts” around the collapsed bridge site, the demolition of the damaged structure, and the emergency repairs necessary to restore the roadway’s ability to handle its traffic volumes of 160,000 vehicles per day.
“The I-95 corridor is a vital connection for people and goods traveling along the East Coast, and we are working hand in hand with state and local officials to make the necessary repairs,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt in a separate statement. “We know thousands of people and businesses rely on this interstate every day, which is why we are providing this quick release funding to ensure PennDOT can reopen this section of I-95 as quickly as possible.”
[Editor’s note: USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to Philadelphia on June 13 to visit the incident site and surveyed the damage with PennDOT’s Carroll.]
On June 12, Gov. Shapiro signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, allowing Pennsylvania to immediately draw down federal funds and move quickly to begin the repair and reconstruction process.
Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis led a meeting of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council on June 13 to review the proclamation, which will remain in effect for 21 days unless extended by the legislature.