PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Interstate 95 reopened Friday less than two weeks after a deadly collapse in Philadelphia, a quicker-than-expected rebuild to get traffic flowing again on a heavily traveled stretch of the East Coast’s main north-south highway.
Workers put the finishing touches on an interim six-lane roadway that will serve motorists during construction of a permanent bridge. Crews worked around the clock and wrapped up ahead of schedule, allaying fears the critical highway would be closed for many weeks.
Traffic began flowing in one direction a little past 12:30 p.m. Friday, according to live video from the site, and all lanes were open a short time later.
“This was a moment of civic pride for Philly and Pennsylvania. We all came together and we proved that we could do big things again in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said at a news conference at the site. “We show that when we work together, we can get s—- done here in Pennsylvania.”
After he spoke, a procession of fire engines — one carrying Philadelphia’s pro sports mascots — and police vehicles crossed the northbound lanes of I-95, christening the new roadway as hard-hatted construction workers looked on. Motorists were happy and relieved, saying the loss of I-95 had created chaos on the roads.
The elevated section of I-95 collapsed early on June 11 after a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline flipped on an off-ramp and caught fire. State transportation officials said the driver, who was killed, lost control around a curve. There were no other deaths or injuries.
To get I-95 operating again as quickly as possible, workers used about 2,000 tons (1,814 metric tons) of lightweight glass nuggets to fill the underpass and bring it up to surface level, then paved over to create three lanes of travel in each direction.
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Written by: Editor