“I want to get this road reopened as quickly as possible. I’m competitive, just like this great city. All of us here today. The trades, PennDOT, the city, the feds. This is our championship and we are ready to go. And I’m proud as hell to be on the team with all these guys and gals standing behind me here today.”
With those words, Gov. Josh Shapiro revealed plans to safely and quickly reopen the section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia that was damaged in a Sunday morning tanker truck fire.
Shapiro, along with Secretary of Transportation Mike Carroll, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, U.S. Transportation Under Secretary Carlos Monje and Business Manager from the Philadelphia Building Trades Council Ryan Boyer, made the announcement at a Wednesday morning press conference.
He shared that the demolition of the damaged highway is expected to be complete on Thursday and that PennDOT has hired a contractor – Philadelphia-based contractor Buckley & Company – to backfill the gap in the roadway 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.
“When I visited this site just a few hours after the fire and collapse on Sunday, I made it clear that my Administration would lead a coordinated response to reopen I-95 safely and as efficiently as possible,” said Shapiro. “Getting I-95 repaired and reopened is our top priority – and we are working our tails off. Under the leadership of Secretary Carroll, and with the support of our federal and local partners and the talented trades workers right here in Philadelphia, we are moving full steam ahead. Government is working for the good people of Pennsylvania. We have a lot do to, and together, we will get this done.”
“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, this city, while also making sure that we have a structure that will serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for decades,” said Carroll.
Shapiro and Carroll have been in regular communication with President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg – who have pledged the full support of the federal government to provide the Commonwealth with the resources it needs to repair I-95.
“Our Highway Administration has released $3 million to support PennDOT’s traffic mitigation efforts, the demolition of the damaged structure that you see behind us, and the emergency repairs necessary to restore this essential traffic,” said Monje.
PennDOT employees and contractors have been working 24/7 since Sunday to complete demolition and begin the repair. Buckley & Company will deliver fill material from Delaware County to the site on Thursday to fill in the damaged area in order to rebuild the new section of road on top. Abbonizio Contractors was hired to handle the demolition that is expected to be completed in the next day.
“We are the Philadelphia Building Trades – we work safe, we work hard, and for this, we want to work around the clock,” said Boyer. “I want to thank the federal response, the local response and the state response. We have the right team here. We will make sure that this is done as quickly and as cleanly as possible.”
A live feed is being set up and will operate 24/7 so the public can watch the rebuilding process in real-time. That live feed will be publicly available later this week.