A collapsed section of I-95 in Philadelphia reopened June 23 in a rapid 24/7 rebuild project – returning traffic just 12 days after a fiery crash shut down the busy highway.
Six temporary lanes – three in each direction – opened at noon over a section that collapsed June 11 after a petroleum tanker crashed into a wall and caught fire on an off-ramp underneath the overpass. The new lanes will be in use while the beginnings of a permanent bridge are built to each side. Once those lanes are completed, the temporary lanes will be demolished and the center part of the bridges will be built. The plan calls for keeping traffic moving throughout the construction. It is estimated 160,000 vehicles traveled the section each day before the collapse.
“Over the past 12 days, the eyes of the country have been on Pennsylvania. We showed them what our grit and determination can accomplish, and we showed them good government in action,” said Governor Josh Shapiro in announcing the reopening. “This is what we can do when government at all levels come together to get the job done. Let this serve as an example to all that Pennsylvania can do big things. When we come together, when we’re determined, we can do big things in this city and in this Commonwealth – and this is proof.”
Though the temporary lanes have enabled traffic to return, there will be restrictions. The speed limit will be 45 mph on the 11-foot-wide lanes, which have no shoulders.
“Engineers have already begun designing and ordering materials for a new permanent bridge,” Shapiro said. It is estimated that construction could take months, but Shapiro has also vowed the rapid construction will continue, to open the permanent sections as quickly as possible.
Opening the temporary lanes involved first demolishing the damaged overpass and filling in the gap with backfill. The backfill consisted of about 15,000 cubic yards of a recycled-glass aggregate. The material, called ultra-lightweight foamed glass aggregate or UL-FGA, began arriving June 15 from Aero Aggregates, based in Eddystone, Pennsylvania.
To read more about the aggregate, click here.
The backfill was then paved over, completing the temporary lanes on June 23. Buckley & Company was the contractor for the project and will also be the general contractor on building the permanent lanes.