Higher shipping costs could be on the horizon, as one of the East Coast’s main highways remains out of commission.
On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said there’s “no question” the damaged Interstate 95 will force truckers and commuters to find longer, more expensive routes, putting “upward pressure” on the East Coast’s supply chain.
A portion of the interstate after a tanker truck carrying gasoline flipped over on an off-ramp and caught fire beneath it. Both directions are now closed in Philadelphia, and could be for weeks or months as crews try to figure out how to best replace the destroyed section.
Pennsylvania’s governor has vowed to bring in whatever resources are necessary to at least get a temporary bridge constructed, as the still active scene is already causing ripples in traffic. After touring the site Tuesday, Buttigieg promised the state federal help to make the repairs safely and quickly.
“Every resource that is needed will be made available,” he said.
There are 160,000 vehicles that travel the damaged section each day — 8% of which are trucks, Buttigieg said, which means “a lot of America’s GDP” depends on it. And although his department is trying to optimize alternative routes, Buttigieg stressed how critical I-95 is to traffic and the economy.
“At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for I-95 being up and running in full working condition,” Buttigieg said.
As demolition is expected to continue the next few days, the state’s transportation secretary said there will be a replacement plan for the damaged interstate released Wednesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the incident and expects to produce a preliminary report in two to three weeks.