June 20, 2023

Governor says Interstate 95 near Philadelphia will reopen this weekend


The reopening of Interstate 95 north of Philadelphia received an updated reopening date late Tuesday afternoon: this coming weekend.

In a tweet, Gov. Josh Shapiro declared that “based on the tremendous progress these crews made over the weekend, I can now say: We will have I-95 back open this weekend.”

The Tuesday tweet from Gov. Shapiro came just three days after he put the time frame to reopen the highway at two weeks. That would have put the reopening the weekend of July 1-2.

Regardless of when it does reopen, unless Shapiro is wildly off on his prediction, the key north-south East Coast interstate highway will be operating just weeks after an overpass collapsed when a fuel truck underneath the structure crashed and burned in a section of northeast Philadelphia known as Tacony. Original predictions saw the highway as being closed for a time period that might be measured in months. 

“We have worked around the clock to get this done, and we’ve completed each phase safely and ahead of schedule,” the governor said in his Tuesday tweet.

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 on Saturday, much less the Tuesday update, 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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