June 18, 2023

A bold boast: Pennsylvania governor says I-95 to reopen in 2 weeks


In a development that would be shockingly good news for the trucking industry, Pennsylvania’s governor says Interstate 95 in northeast Philadelphia will reopen in two weeks.

Two weeks from the Saturday announcement would put the reopening at one day less than three weeks since last Sunday’s collapse of a section of the highway caused by the fiery crash of a tanker truck beneath it. The fire and explosion took place in a section of the city known as Tacony.

When the collapse occurred, the online speculation was whether Pennsylvania could beat the 43 days that it took Georgia to reconstruct an overpass that was damaged by fire in 2017. According to an article from Axios, there was skepticism that the Georgia performance could be topped and fear that the repairs in Philadelphia could take months, creating major disruption to commercial and other traffic. 

Given that, Shapiro’s statement came as as a surprise. “I can state with confidence that we will have I-95 reopened within the next two weeks,” he said Saturday at a briefing with President Joe Biden at Philadelphia’s main airport, according to a prepared statement released by his office. “We are going to get traffic moving again thanks to the extraordinary work of those here and our incredible union trade workers.”

The statement put out by Shapiro’s office had several details about the pace of the reconstruction.

Shapiro earlier had disclosed that demolition of the bridge and roadway had taken four days. That was “ahead of schedule and beating some experts’ prediction of more than a week,” the statement said.

Laying down a base in the roadway with a foamed glass aggregate fill began Thursday, after the demolition was complete. “That same day, the Pennsylvania State Police escorted truckloads of foamed glass aggregate fill from AeroAggregates in Delaware County up I-95 to the construction site to make sure they arrived as quickly as possible,” the statement said. “Members of the Philadelphia Building Trades, working for Philadelphia-based contractor Buckley & Company, have begun pouring the foamed glass aggregate into the gap in the roadway, building it up to the surface level of I-95.”

Work will continue “24/7” through the holiday weekend, according to the statement.

An earlier FreightWaves article on the status of disruptions to trucking created by the closure can be found here. 

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