PHIA News Digest – Vol. 8, No. 26

June 26, 2023

How a collapsed section of I-95 reopened in just 12 days

A combination of NASCAR equipment, recycled glass and police escorts helped reopen the repaired portion of I-95 in Philadelphia way ahead of schedule. Six lanes reopened to motorists at noon on Friday, 12 days after a bridge collapsed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced.

Democrat proposes more local options for mass-transit funding

Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, on Tuesday hosted a news conference on the Capitol steps to announce a new bill that would allow local communities to raise funds for their own transportation systems.

Pa. lawmaker hopes to help Philly crack down on ATVs

The ranking member of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee hopes a change to state law could help Philadelphia crack down on illegal operation of ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets.

SEPTA adjusts service after I-95 reopens

SEPTA will continue to offer two additional morning trains and one additional evening train on its Trenton Line, while maintaining additional seating capacity on that line, as well as the West Trenton and Fox Chase lines.

The man behind the I-95 rebuild: Who is PennDOT chief Mike Carroll?

One phone call uprooted PennDOT secretary Mike Carroll’s life. It was around 7am on June 11, informing him that a portion of I-95 had collapsed after a tanker caught fire underneath the Cottman Avenue exit.

Fetterman introduces bill to fund road safety improvements for pedestrians

As a stretch of I-95 in Philadelphia damaged by an explosion on June 11 comes close to reopening, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., on Thursday introduced a bill to fund improvements for roads across the state and the U.S., aiming to make them safer for pedestrians.

NASCAR jet dryer sent to help I-95 repair work

With intermittent rain expected over the next few days, PennDOT has brought in a NASCAR jet dryer from Pocono Raceway to keep the asphalt on the new roadway dry. The jet dryer is essentially a helicopter engine carried on the back of a truck.

Bills loosening emissions testing, setting EV fees approved by Pa. Senate

The Pennsylvania Senate approved bills Wednesday exempting new vehicles from emissions testing for five years after manufacture, removing seven counties from annual vehicle emissions testing, and charging a flat user fee for electric vehicle owners. The measures, all with varied levels of bipartisan support, now move to the state House for further consideration.

Is foam glass safe for I-95 rebuild? Where else you’ll find it

Amid the excitement about I-95 reopening much sooner than expected, there’s been a small nagging question: What’s with the much-hyped “foam glass” used to build the temporary lanes? Is the material — a product of Delco “ingenuity,” per Gov. Josh Shapiro — really suitable for such an important job?



Philly scrambles to address bridge collapse

June 23, 2023

The tragic destruction of an I-95 bridge in a fiery crash in northeast Philadelphia early Sunday morning attracted national attention, due to the importance of I-95 as a major transportation link serving the entire U.S. Eastern Seaboard. Rebuilding will take months and include a temporary road on which traffic will flow while the permanent bridgework is completed.

The bridge was destroyed when a gasoline tanker-truck went out of control on a curve along the Cottman Avenue off-ramp. The truck fell on its side beneath the I-95 overpass, igniting the gasoline. The truck’s driver was killed in the crash.

The bridge handles an average of 160,000 vehicles per day in each direction. Because I-95 is a major freight corridor, officials are warning of potential supply-chain problems, at least until the temporary road is open for traffic. The temporary road will have three lanes in each direction, and Philadelphia-based Buckley & Co. has been hired as the contractor.

The temporary road may be opened for traffic as early as this weekend.

Governor Shapiro secured federal disaster funds the day after the crash, which will expedite the project. He said reconstruction work would proceed around the clock, seven days a week, until the project is complete. PennDOT is live-streaming the demolition and construction on its website, at this link.

Also stepping up to assist was SEPTA, which is increasing rider capacity and service on several routes. For more information about that, follow this link.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 8, No. 25

June 23, 2023

I-95 update: Construction moving quickly, roadway will reopen within two weeks

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the crews onsite and continued collaboration between state, federal and local government, the Shapiro administration expects the roadway will reopen within the next two weeks.

U.S. DOT announces $3 million in ‘quick release’ emergency relief

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration today announced the immediate availability of $3 million in “quick release” emergency relief funds for use as a down payment by PennDOT to offset costs of repair work on a section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. More funding is available through the FHWA’s Emergency Relief program.

U.S. infrastructure priorities tested after highway collapse

Cutting an unimpeded path nearly 2,000 miles from Maine to Florida, Interstate 95 is one of the biggest achievements of the federal interstate highway program. It’s the main transportation artery of the East Coast, connecting about 40 percent of the country’s population and economy on just a tenth of its land.

I-95 rebuild: Step by step, Philly’s plan to fix the highway

There’s still no estimate of how long the highway rebuild might take, but there’s a big push to make it happen fast.

PA state rep pushes for extension of emergency proclamation

State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., chair of the PA House Transportation Committee, introduced House Resolution 154 on Friday, which seeks to extend Gov. Josh Shapiro’s emergency proclamation for the safe and prompt rebuilding of Interstate 95, one of the busiest highways in Pennsylvania, carrying an average of 160,000 vehicles daily.

Federal officials warn I-95 collapse could affect shipping across East Coast

Following a tour of the site, Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the deadly crash that has shut down the highway in both directions since Sunday morning is having “an outsized impact on commuters and on goods movement up and down the I-95 corridor.”

Buttigieg says U.S. ‘green corridors’ initiative will cut shipping industry emissions

An American push to establish “green shipping corridors” is key to reducing carbon emissions from the shipping industry, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday while touring the port of Yokohama near Tokyo.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 8, No. 24

June 12, 2023

I-95 collapse: Here are detours and travel guidance following the tanker truck fire

Drivers are urged to avoid the area and to seek alternative travel routes, or use SEPTA or other public transportation where possible. During a press conference Sunday, Leslie S. Richards, CEO and general manager of SEPTA, said the transportation service is finalizing details for an immediate service plan to go into effect over the next 24 to 48 hours.

SEPTA moves to increase rail service following I-95 bridge collapse

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is moving to add service on three Regional Rail lines following the collapse of a bridge on Interstate 95, a problem that could snarl commuting and impact other traffic on the East Coast’s primary north-south highway for months.

House passes Matzie/Marshall bill to boost rail safety

Pennsylvania is on track for improved rail safety after the PA House today voted to pass legislation by Beaver County state Reps. Rob Matzie and Jim Marshall that would strengthen state standards for freight trains and add reporting requirements for transport of hazardous materials.

Turnpike removing paper towel dispensers; aims to be first sustainable superhighway

Paper towel dispensers are being removed from service plazas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an aim to be the first sustainable superhighway.

PA expands acceptable documents for proof of Social Security number

PennDOT announced that the requirement for proof of Social Security Number for REAL ID products will expand to include additional documents. Per federal regulations, customers wishing to obtain a REAL ID product must present proof of Social Security Number.

Senate committee advances bill creating new fee for EVs

The Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee voted 13-1 to approve a Republican-authored bill eliminating the alternative fuels tax on electric vehicles and replacing it with a $290 annual flat fee — or pay $24.17 each month — for noncommercial EV drivers.

A new, transit-centered neighborhood for Philadelphia

A 90-year-old train station will anchor a $10 billion investment in urban development that could result in as much as 18 million square feet of new commercial and residential space over the next several decades.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 8, No. 23

June 5, 2023

Carnegie Mellon University to lead transportation consortium

Carnegie Mellon University will lead a national consortium that will establish Safety21, a new university transportation center. The U.S. Department of Transportation will provide the consortium with $20 million over the next five years.

Neilson introduces legislation to target speeding in Pa.

State Rep. Ed Neilson, chair of the PA House Transportation Committee, has introduced legislation (H.B. 1284) to make Pennsylvania’s automated speed enforcement programs in active work zones and along Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia permanent. Without legislative action, these programs are scheduled to expire in February 2024 and December 2023 respectively.

Millions in federal funding target dangerous railroad crossings

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration is awarding more than $570 million in Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program funding to 32 states, including two projects in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Revenue Department releases May collections

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $280.8 million for the month, $27.2 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund – which include the commonly known gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues – total $2.7 billion, which is $38.8 million, or 1.5 percent, above estimate.