Interstate 95 is set to reopen to traffic Friday, almost two weeks after the deadly collapse in Philadelphia shut down one of the most heavily traveled stretches of the East Coast’s north-south highway.
Construction crews were finishing up some final touches to a temporary six-lane roadway that will serve motorists while a permanent replacement bridge is being built. The interim roadway is slated to reopen at noon local time, according to the governor’s office.
“Because of our incredible union trade workers’ hard work and our all hands on deck approach, we will have traffic flowing on I-95 this weekend — just about two weeks after the collapse,” Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said “This is what it looks like when Pennsylvanians work together to do big things.”
The busy section of Philadelphia’s I-95 after a tractor-trailer hauling flammable cargo flipped and caught fire beneath an elevated section of the interstate. Authorities said the driver of the truck lost control around a curve and died in the crash. No other deaths or injuries were reported.
Gov. Shapiro quickly issued a disaster declaration following the incident to allow the state to dip into federal funds and expedite repairs. It’s estimated that about 160,000 vehicles use the route every day.
Workers trucked in some 2,000 tons of lightweight glass nuggets to fill the roughly 100-foot-by-150-foot gap and bring the underpass area to surface level. Crews then paved over it to create three lanes of traffic in each direction. It will serve as a temporary solution as they work to build a replacement bridge and restore the exit ramp, officials said.
The new bridge is expected to cost up to $30 million and take several months to complete.