Who to blame for the massive traffic jam on I-95 around Philly

A 10-car pileup, a new traffic restriction and truck weight restriction violators have made I-95 a disaster.

Update: This story was updated Tuesday to reflect that trucks are being looked at by State Police and detoured if they appear to be more than five tons and every truck is not being weighed at checkpoints.

I-95 outside Philadelphia is jammed more than most days today.

You might think it’s entirely because of a 10-car pileup in the Riverwards area — but you’d be wrong. Look instead toward a new traffic pattern PennDOT instituted over the weekend. Basically, it’s because tons of truck drivers violated a Secret Service weight restriction.

As part of the security plan for the Democratic National Convention, State Police are enforcing a ban on trucks that are more than five tons — meaning trucks viewed by State Police that appear to be more than five tons are re-routed. The checkpoints are located near where the Vine Street Expressway and I-95 meet and at a checkpoint near the airport, according to PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum.

To make matters worse, PennDOT instituted a new traffic pattern in the area cutting the number of lanes from four to three. This was put into place over the weekend because, despite 100 signs throughout the region, so many truck drivers had violated the weight ban that an entire lane is being dedicated to re-route them off of I-95.

If they’re over the five ton weight limit, if the trucks are coming South, they’re being rerouted west on the Vine Street Expressway, then to eastbound 76, to 26th Street, to the intersection at Penrose Avenue, then over the Platt bridge onto 95 South. Northbound travelers are re-routed the same way, but backwards.

In addition, here are a number of closures on I-95 that will be enforced by PennDOT. Most of those restrictions are for large commercial vehicles, however the I-95 exit ramp at Broad Street (Route 611/ Exit 17) will have closures:

  • Northbound: From Friday, July 22 at 10 p.m. until midday Friday, July 29.
  • Southbound: Will be open intermittently during convention week, but only for access to the Navy Yard. Detours will be posted, and you can check PennDOT’s special website for the DNC for more details.

A 10-car pileup shortly after 8 a.m. in the northbound lanes at the Cottman Avenue exit didn’t help maters this morning, and only one lane was able to pass through the area for a period of time. No one was reported to have been injured.

Blaum recommended I-95 travelers either find another route to get in and out of the city or pad their travel time significantly for the week. He also said commuters can check 511pa.com, which shows traffic backups in real time.

The five-ton restriction on commercial vehicles will be in effect until Friday.

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