Gov. Josh Shapiro channeled his Philly sports fan energy Wednesday as he outlined the steps for rebuilding the collapsed portion of I-95.
“I want to get this road reopened as quickly as possible,” Shapiro said during a Wednesday morning presser. “I’m competitive just like this great city. All of us here today, the trades and PennDOT, the city, the feds, this is our championship and we are ready to go.”
Workers are set to finish the demolition of the north and southbound sides of the highway on Thursday, three days ahead of schedule and four days after the collapse, which was triggered by a fiery tanker truck crash that killed the driver.
However, the work has just begun.
PennDOT hired Philly-based highway contractor Buckley & Co. to reconstruct the highway. The project is expected to rely on many local building trades workers.
“We have a commitment that this stuff that you call rain won’t stop us, wind won’t stop us,” said Ryan Boyer, business manager for the Philadelphia Building Trades. “Without it being an act of God, you’ll see construction workers here every day, all day.”
Shapiro didn’t give a timeline of when the project might be completed. He did emphasize workers will be active 24/7 to create a temporary roadway for motorists, even as construction of a permanent bridge is underway.
In the meantime, here’s a step-by-step of what comes next for I-95.
1) A police escort from Delco for recycled glass backfill
On Thursday, Pennsylvania State Police will escort a truck carrying a recyclable glass aggregate, from Delaware County to the construction site so that workers can backfill the impacted area, according to Shapiro.
Shapiro said the escort is to ensure that the fill will get to the site as quickly as possible. Once there, the material will be used to build up the affected ground and will then be paved over.
2) Hang out with your friends and watch the live stream of the rebuilding
Shapiro’s team is setting up a 24/7 livestream that Philadelphians can use to watch the progress of the reconstruction. There’s no exact date for the feed’s debut, but it will be available sometime this week.
“We’re moving full steam ahead and we will work around the clock,” Shapiro said.
3) Starting the work on the permanent bridge
When eventually constructing the bridge, there will be six lanes — three for northbound and three for south in the center area of the “void”, according to Pa. Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll.
The outer 35 feet will be under construction and not impact traffic. Once completed, the reconstruction will then move toward the center of the bridge.
4) Hello, Cottman Ave!
After that’s done, the Cottman Avenue exit ramp will be reopened, and “we will have completed the work”, Carroll said.
The journey to get the work done involves many towns in the Philly area. “I am eternally grateful to the folks here on-site to the engineers in Harrisburg and in King of Prussia and our consultants… there’s so much happening behind the scenes that you don’t see,” Carroll said.
5) Where’s the money coming from?
While the eventual cost of the project is unknown, federal and local officials have pledged funding for the cause.
On Wednesday, Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle announced $3 million in federal emergency funding for the collapse. The money will go to PennDOT to assist with repairs.
Additionally, Shapiro signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on Monday which frees up $7 million in state funds to be used for the reconstruction of I-95. The disaster declaration also allows Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Department, and State Troopers to use available resources.
Any businesses with issues caused by the collapse are encouraged to contact the Philadelphia’s Office of Business Services by email at email@example.com or by phone at 215-683-2100.