A horrific crash on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia led to a portion of a bridge on the busy roadway collapsing.
Interstate 95, or I-95, is one of the busiest interstates on the East Coast. Approximately 160,000 vehicles travel on the road through Philadelphia each day.
Because of the accident, commuters, other drivers, local residents, and business owners alike face what authorities say could be months of traffic jams, detours, and road construction.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has already signed an emergency declaration, which makes $7 million in state funding available, to streamline rebuilding the bridge, according to the Washington Post. What’s more, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has also said his agency is prepared to help local officials “swiftly” address the disruption.
“But, just to be clear, swiftly is not going to be overnight,” Buttigieg said, according to CNN. “We’re talking about major structural work.”
What Caused The Crash
The bridge collapse can be thought of as the end result of a domino effect of sequential events.
First, the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the accident and some details are not yet available.
However, the chain of events began when a truck driver took an off-ramp on I-95, lost control of the vehicle, and then crashed into a wall. The truck, which was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline, then burst into flames, according to the City of Philadelphia.
The northbound lanes of the road then collapsed and southbound lanes of I-95 were damaged due to the intensity of the fire, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Then, on Monday, work began to demolish “massive” sections of the damaged overpass.
“Demolition of the collapsed bridge has begun and detours are in place,” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said.
“I found myself thanking the Lord that no motorists who were on I-95 were injured or died,” said Governor Shapiro after a flyover of the scene, according to CNN. He described seeing “remarkable devastation.”
The Months Ahead
While federal investigators probe the scene of the accident to determine what exactly happened, and whether or not the burning gasoline caused such considerable damage or if other factors came into play as well, the question on everyone else’s mind is simply “What now?”
In terms of the big picture, “A more exact timeline for the complete rebuilding of the I-95 roadway should be available in the coming days once the engineers complete their review,” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation explains.
In the meantime, all lanes of I-95 are closed in both directions between Woodhaven and Aramingo exits, according to the City of Philadelphia. Some streets in the surrounding area are also closed so they may be used for emergency vehicles.
“Travelers should expect delays along the detour and plan alternative travel routes, especially while planning for their weekday commute,” the City of Philadelphia continues.
You can learn more about I-95 road closures and details about the detours at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s I-95 Incident Updates webpage.
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