Plans to get traffic moving over the fire-damaged section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia call for filling in the gap where the bridge used to be, repaving over the fill to create three lanes for traffic in each direction, and then constructing new spans on either side of those lanes.
That was the plan announced today, Wednesday, June 14, by Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro. He was joined at a morning press conference by federal, state, and local officials and members of the local construction union.
Shapiro offered no timeline for the project's completion and no cost estimate. He did, however, say it would be completed "as quickly and safely as possible" and that the federal government had pledged funds to cover the cost.
He also said demolition of the damaged southbound lanes would be completed Thursday, June 15. Shapiro added that the first loads of the recycled glass aggregate to be used to fill the gap under the interstate would arrive tomorrow, and that work would continue around the clock until the project was completed.
The plan calls for allowing 35 feet on either side of the temporary lanes to build a replacement for the 10-year-old bridge that was destroyed Sunday when a fuel tanker crashed and caught fire. Once the spans are opened, the fill under them would be removed and used for another project, according to state Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll.
The governor said the process chosen to reopen the interstate was decided to be the best way to get traffic flowing quickly and safely. There will be a live webcam streaming work at the construction site 24/7.
Carroll said representatives of the commonwealth have met with transportation officials in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland to ensure Pennsylvania-bound motorists were aware of the construction and detours.
During his visit to the scene of Sunday's crash and bridge collapse, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stressed the importance of I-95
"At the end of the day, there's no substitute for I-95 to being up and running in full working condition," he said.
Buttigieg also warned that the interruption of traffic caused by the bridge collapse and reconstruction could cause what he called "upward pressure" on the price of goods transported along I-95.
The American Trucking Association has estimated that some 14,000 trucks a day would normally pass over the damaged bridge. These trucks are now forced onto non-interstate detours of about 40 miles that contain some 60 stop lights.
On Tuesday evening, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office said Nathan Moody died of blunt trauma to the head and inhalation and thermal injuries. The manner of death has been ruled an accident, officials said. Family members said the 53-year-old Moody had been driving for about 10 years.