Construction on Interstate 95 in the Philly area will continue well through the next decade — maybe longer, especially if the city gets its wish and adds a capping project connecting the city with the Delaware River over a piece of the highway.
But there’s always some good news: PennDOT’s making progress on a number of projects along 95 and hopes to wrap up several this year, including opening ramps near Fishtown and completing construction near Cottman Avenue. PennDOT senior construction engineer Harold Windisch said a mild winter allowed PennDOT to make headway on major projects between Cottman and Girard avenues along I-95 heading into warmer months when the weather’s more predictable.
Here’s a look at the major construction projects along I-95 heading into summer, where they stand, when they’ll be finished and what remains down the road:
Girard Avenue and Richmond Street area
Neighborhoods affected: Fishtown, Port Richmond
Work that was already completed: Construction in the area began in 2009 with changes to the southbound off-ramp as well as to Aramingo Avenue. The other major change in the area was essentially relocating a large portion of Richmond Street to make room for a total reconstruction of I-95 in the area. So far, they’ve demolished the northbound viaduct between Palmer and Ann streets and widened between Palmer Street and Frankford Avenue.
What’s going on now: Windisch said the major changes taking place this summer and into the fall are where PennDOT is working to reconstruct several miles of 95 between I-676 and Allegheny Avenue, including the Girard Avenue Interchange. Right now, they’re working between Palmer and Allegheny, as well as rebuilding on-off ramps on the northbound side and continuing construction in the Richmond Street/ Delaware Avenue area.
When it will be finished: PennDOT expects to re-open the off-ramp from I-95 northbound to be reopened in May or June, and Windisch said drivers can expect “a nice, long ramp down to the new interchange.” He said he expects PennDOT to re-open the northbound on-ramp from Girard that’s been closed for about a year-and-a-half sometime around August or September of this year. That will be open and, in addition, northbound traffic will be diverted onto the the new, partially-built northbound I-95.
What’s left to do: Everything that happened so far on the northbound side? By 2018, it’ll be the southbound side’s turn. The overall Girard Interchange project is expected to continue through 2028 or later.
Betsy Ross Interchange area
Neighborhoods affected: Port Richmond, Bridesburg, Harrowgate, Frankford
Work that was already completed: In this area of I-95, they’re just getting started.
What’s going on now: Work on the Betsy Ross Interchange from the western approach to the Betsy Ross Bridge to the west side of Aramingo Avenue has been happening since 2015, and PennDOT expects that portion of this part of I-95 to wrap up by August of this year. Among those improvements were changing, reconstructing and widening several ramps, relocating utilities and installing traffic signals. Also this year, work began on reconstruction of the interchange ramps west of Aramingo Avenue. Included in this phase are projects like widening portions of Aramingo and building new ramps connecting the street to I-95.
When it will be finished: Several ramps in the Betsy Ross bridge area are expected to re-open in July or August of this year.
What’s left to do: Construction will begin in late 2018 on the ramp bridges in the Betsy Ross Interchange area and the reconstruction of the northbound lanes of I-95 near the Betsy Ross is expected to begin in 2023. PennDOT is looking at 2026 to begin the reconstruction of the southbound lanes in the area.
PennDOT also says it’s working on the Aramingo Avenue bridge over Frankford Creek, a project originally slated for three years that Windisch said PennDOT is looking to cut to two. You’ll likely start to see full construction in the area by next month.
Cottman Avenue area
Neighborhoods affected: Tacony, Holmesburg
Work that was already completed: Almost all of it! PennDOT wrapped up mainline construction on what’s called the Cottman Avenue Interchange Improvement Project in December. That means the reconstruction and widening between Bleigh Avenue and Levick Street is *done.*
What’s going on now: Crews are working to re-locate utilities on State Road, but Windisch said PennDOT is on its last stage of construction in the Cottman Interchange area at this point. In May, PennDOT will also finish fixing a large storm sewer on Bleigh Avenue. The rest of the work in the area is mostly finishing touches, including putting in new curbs and sidewalks under seven new bridges and resurfacing the roads.
What’s left to do: By the end of 2017, the Cottman Interchange will represent the first major finished project (there are really four major projects in total) finished along I-95.
Allegheny/ Castor Interchange
Neighborhoods affected: Port Richmond, mostly
Work that was already completed: Nothing yet! Work won’t begin on this area until 2018.
What’s left to do: During this construction phase, PennDOT will rebuild and widen a mile-and-a-half of 95 between the Betsy Ross Bridge Interchange to south of Allegheny Avenue.
Turnpike Interchange area
Neighborhoods affected: Far Northeast Philly (then into Bucks County)
Work that was already completed: Separately from the reviving 95 project, PennDOT is also working to connect I-95 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike to reduce traffic congestion in Bucks County and better control the flow of traffic heading into Philadelphia. Here’s a map of what’s already been completed in the area:
What’s going on now: At this point, crews are replacing the Hulmeville bridge over the Turnpike, widening the Turnpike to the Delaware River bridge, replacing bridges at the Bensalem Interchange and replacing/ reconstructing existing roadways in the area.
When it will be finished: Windisch said the connection should be completed by August 2018.
What’s left to do: PennDOT will put the finishing touches on the area into 2018, including installing a Park and Ride and connecting ramps with the toll plaza.