PHILADELPHIA – Traffic is rolling once again on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia less than two weeks after a man was killed in an overpass collapse.
Update 12:10 p.m. EDT June 23: Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro officially opened the roadway.
But before other drivers got a chance to drive on the new highway, Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 38, which was the first crew on the scene of the collapse, got to drive the span, with sirens and horns blaring, accompanied by the city’s sports mascots such as Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic on board one of the trucks, WPVI reported.
Original report: The six-lane roadway that will open Friday will route traffic around the span as a permanent bridge is being built, The Associated Press reported.
It is expected to open at noon with Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll officially reopening the highway, WTXF reported.
Crews took only four days to demolish the part of the overpass that came down on June 11, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The main east coast artery collapsed after a tractor-trailer that was hauling gasoline flipped on an off-ramp when the driver lost control around a curve.
The truck caught fire and the extreme heat brought down the bridge. The driver was killed in the incident. He was the lone casualty.
Construction crews worked around the clock and finished the temporary bridge ahead of schedule. They filled the underpass to bring it up to the highway’s level, filling the void with 2,000 tons of glass nuggets. They then paved it, making three lanes running in each direction.
The project has been live-streamed so people could follow the progress.
President Joe Biden visited the site about a week after the crash, saying the design was “incredibly innovative in order to get this work done in record time.”
Despite the fast build, Mother Nature almost dampened the progress as rains wet the highway, almost preventing crews from being able to paint the lines on the highway, but some help from the Pocono Raceway in the form of a truck-mounted jet dryer helped dry the pavement, allowing the lines to be painted, the AP reported.
WTXF reported that the track’s pace car had a state police escort to bring the dryer to the area to dry the road.
“Pocono Raceway is thrilled to answer the call that went out yesterday from Secretary Carroll on behalf of the Shapiro Administration,” Ricky Durst, the Senior Director of Marketing & Analytics for Pocono Raceway, told WTXF.
“It’s a jet engine. It’s going to blow out about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. It has about 3,000 pounds of force,” Durst told the television station. “As the secretary said, it’s buckled into a Chevy Silverado. So, it’s a little bit of a Frankenstein thing, but it’s also pretty specialized and it’s used throughout the NASCAR industry to keep things dry and keep things safe.”
The portion of the highway that collapsed carried about 160,000 vehicles daily.
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