Crews in Philadelphia are on track to complete demolition work Thursday on the section of Interstate 95 that crumbled last weekend after a tanker truck hauling gasoline crashed and burst into flames, Pennsylvania’s governor said, but it could take months before the overpass is reconstructed.
Gov. Josh Shapiro did not say when the overpass would be rebuilt and fully reopen to the public. However, a temporary workaround is planned that will allow drivers to travel in three lanes both northbound and southbound on the interstate, he said at a news conference Wednesday.
“This is the speediest, safest way that will allow us to get back to capacity on 95,” Shapiro said.
A tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline crashed underneath the highway Sunday and flames engulfed a section of the interstate. The driver, identified as 53-year-old Nathan Moody, was killed.
The northbound stretch of the interstate collapsed on top of the truck, and southbound lanes were also damaged.
I-95 collapse detours
Crews spent days working around the clock conducting demolition work, which is expected to conclude Thursday.
The next step will be to fill and pave the gap in the highway so traffic can resume on the Interstate as teams work to permanently rebuild the overpass, Shapiro said.
The material used to close the gap is expected to arrive at the site by Thursday, according to the governor.
Although Shapiro did not disclose the projected costs for repairs, he has declared a state of emergency and allotted $7 million in state funds for reconstruction. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration sent the state an initial payment of $3 million, the head of the agency told a Senate committee Wednesday.
The crash’s impact has been felt on multiple fronts.
It has caused “extensive disruption for the movement of people and goods through that region,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this week when he visited the site.
“That is a lot of America’s GDP moving along that road every day,” he said.
Commuters have been forced to find alternative routes to work, leading to traffic congestion beyond the interstate.
Before the deadly crash, the bridge was structurally sound and met current standards, Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll said during the news conference Wednesday.
“The bridge was only 10 years old,” he said.
Jennifer Homendy, who heads the National Transportation Safety Board, said the investigation may examine the structural makeup of the bridge.
The NTSB, the federal agency that investigates aviation crashes and other malfunctions related to railroads, transit systems and highways, is also zeroing in on the truck to determine what could have gone wrong.
The company operating the gasoline tanker, Penn Tank Lines, was also in good standing prior to the collision, the NTSB said Wednesday. The agency cited information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates commercial vehicles.
CNN has reached out to Penn Tank Lines for comment.