Parts of I-95 in Philly to be reduced to 2 lanes as reconstruction continues

The new beams are the first sign of permanent repairs to the formerly damaged structure.

State Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll speaks at a podium

State Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll talks about timetable for final fix of I 95. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A section of Interstate 95 damaged earlier this year in a fiery crash now has structural steel in place to support its outer edges. Transportation leaders say a permanent fix will be in place later this year for at least half the roadway.

The highway collapsed June 11 after a tanker truck caught fire beneath an overpass directly below the northbound lanes. Since then, crews have raced to make temporary repairs. Those repairs allowed traffic to begin flowing again less than two weeks after the incident.

Now, steel beams produced in just two months instead of the normal year are the latest sign of the rapid progress of the rebuilding effort.

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Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll joined city and state leaders at the site Thursday afternoon as the beams were laid in place. The next phase of the project will see workers placing the road decking over top of the new beams.

“Depending on weather and the availability of the other materials that we need — concrete and rebar — we intend to have the outer structures completed this fall,” Carroll said.

The project’s Rob Buckley of Buckley Construction credited cooperation and teamwork as the reason the project has been able to progress so quickly. “We would like to thank everyone for your support, please bear with us we are working diligently,” Buckley said.

Once the new outer bridges are complete, traffic will shift to the outer lanes as the inner lanes will be dug out and replaced with more beams and concrete to complete the repairs. During that portion of the rebuild, the Philadelphia Water Department will have to dig up the street below the overpass which suffered damage from the explosion and fire that came with the crash.

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The compacted materials will be moved to another construction site to the south and used as fill, to maximize the dollars spent.

Carroll complimented the state and federal government for working with the city to get the job done quickly. He added they have been keeping a close eye on the patch which used a new type of fill including recycled glass to expedite the repairs.

“It’s been tested with LIDAR [Light Detection and Ranging] since the day it’s been installed. It hasn’t moved a fraction of an inch. The facility is completely sound,” Carroll said. “I know there were some skeptics when we first announced the recycled glass aggregate. It has worked exactly as we envisioned.”

The outer bridges are expected to be completed this fall and a final date for completion of the repairs will depend on factors such as weather and the supply chain for raw materials needed in the rebuild.

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