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The I-95 restoration: A Pennsylvania success story

June 4, 2024

Exactly one day before the beginning of the 2024 Memorial Day weekend, state and national transportation leaders held an event to announce the full restoration of I-95 in northeast Philadelphia, the site of a devastating fuel tanker accident last June.

In announcing the reopening of the eight-lane highway, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll, along with Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, joined other dignitaries praising the workers and collaboration that led to the super-fast-tracked reconstruction of one of the busiest transportation arteries in the northeast United States.

The fiery crash claimed the life of the tanker driver when his rig tipped on Sunday morning, June 11, of last year and exploded beneath an overpass.

The highway was instantly deemed impassable. Secretary Carroll and Governor Shapiro immediately grasped the magnitude of the disaster, knowing that the crash would create traffic nightmares and potentially threaten commerce from Maine to Florida.

President Biden toured the accident site by helicopter and said that “there’s no more important project right now in the country as far as I’m concerned.” He pledged to reimburse Pennsylvania for 100% of the initial cost and 90% for the rest.

Then the designers, engineering team, construction companies and the Philadelphia Building Trades got busy. After initially predicting a months-long closing of the highway, the aforementioned problem-solvers said they might be able to create a temporary solution.

Twelve days later, the road was back in business. Traffic resumed, interstate traffic was shifted back to I-95, and economic consequences were eased.

Now, less than a year later, the permanent repairs are in place. For a look back on the nearly year-long restoration effort, follow this link.

 

Featured, News

Condolences to family and friends of highway workers who died in work zone accident

April 19, 2024

PHIA and its members extend deepest condolences to the families and friends of the three highway workers who were killed in a work zone accident on I-83 between York and Harrisburg early Wednesday morning. The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the accident.

The workers were employees of CriLon Corp., of Somerset. They were identified as Jesse McKenzie, 24, of Somerset; Robert Hampe, 42, of Meyersdale; and Philson Hinebaugh III, 24, of Johnstown.

We urge drivers to remember to make safe choices behind the wheel as we begin another construction season.

 

Featured, News

Progress in repairing bridges begins to flatten without new revenue

April 19, 2024

Despite the progress that was made in repairing and replacing Pennsylvania bridges following the passage of Act 89 in 2013, the Commonwealth finds itself listed as the second-worst state for the condition of its bridges with more than 3,000 in poor condition, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

A recent spate of accidents involving bridges – most notably Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge – have focused new attention on the bridge condition issue across the U.S.

Pennsylvania has 25,400 bridges, more than half of which are in “fair” condition and 13% are in “poor” condition, according to the Federal Highway Administration. PennDOT says the average bridge in the state is at least 50 years old.

On the bright side, the number of bridges in poor condition has dropped by 500 since 2019. Moreover, before Act 89, there were more than 6,000 in poor condition.

In any case, there are still many bridges to fix or replace, with resources diminishing due to increasing cost of materials, labor costs and shrinking revenue as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and the electric vehicle market grows. Policymakers will be challenged to identify new streams of revenue in the next few years.

For more details on the ARTBA report, follow this link.