Officials present temporary fix to reopen damaged section of I-95

State Police to escort dump trucks carrying construction materials to ensure “not a single moment is wasted,” Gov. Shapiro announces.

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Josh Shapiro speaking at a podium at the collapse site.

Pa. Governor Josh Shapiro helps outline reconstruction plan. (Tom MacDonald WHYY)

A plan to rebuild a section of I-95 damaged in Northeast Philadelphia is in the beginning stages.

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro stood at the site of the bridge collapse Wednesday and announced plans to fill in the area between the two sections of the highway.

“We have determined collectively that the most efficient way to reopen I-95 is to backfill the gap in the roadway behind me and then pave over it,” Shapiro said. “This approach will allow us to avoid delays due to shipment and supply chain issues and pursue a simple, quicker path.”

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Dump trucks transporting the fill would be given police escorts to ensure materials arrive as quickly as possible, Shapiro said.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is going to escort trucks carrying specially designed Pennsylvania-made fill,” he said. “This is recycled glass aggregate. They are going to escort them from Delco, up I-95 to make sure that fill gets here as quickly as possible … to make sure not a single moment is wasted.”

The section of I-95, which collapsed after a truck carrying gasoline overturned and caught fire beneath a highway overpass, killing the driver, carried an average of 160,000 vehicles daily.

Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll said the fill would be strong enough to handle that weight.

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“It’s going to be engineered in a way that will be completely reliable for the traveling public while the remainder of the work is done,” he said.

The plan is to make six lanes initially available by the fill and cover method — followed by construction of a new bridge — and as the bridge is completed, the packing will be removed and reused at another location.

Officials declined to put a price tag on the work — and dodged questions about how long it would be until the temporary bridge is open to traffic.

Crews have agreed to work around the clock until work is complete. Ryan Boyer, who leads Philadelphia’s Laborers’ District Council, a local construction trades union, vowed to work whatever the weather, seven days a week until the highway reopened.

$3 million in federal money has already been allocated to the project, and Gov. Shapiro said he’s freed up another $7 million in state funds to get things started.

The fill-in phase of the project can begin once demolition wraps up, which is expected to be complete by the end of Thursday.

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