I-95 Overpass Reopens to Traffic Following Speedy Reconstruction

An I-95 overpass in northern Philadelphia has opened with permanent lanes about five months after it collapsed due to a tanker fire.

Six lanes--three on each side--paved over steel girders reopened to traffic Nov. 6, marking the completion of the first of two phases to repair the overpass near Cottman Avenue that partially collapsed June 11 when a tanker lost control while exiting the highway, crashed under the bridge, and caught fire. The crash collapsed the six northbound lanes (including shoulders) and rendered the six southbound ones unsound.

High Steel Structures was tapped as the fabricator for the new bridge in the days following the crash. It fabricated 16 106- to 108-ft girders, the first of which arrived on site in late August. Eight of those support the newly constructed lanes, which opened ahead of schedule.

"High Steel Structures has had the honor of helping Pennsylvania recover from the I-95 bridge collapse in Philadelphia," High Steel President John O’Quinn said. "When emergencies like that happen, our team and the overall steel industry steps up and delivers. From the moment the word of the accident hit the news, the industry's collaboration and sense of urgency to assist in any manner possible became the ultimate focus.

"The steel mills, suppliers, and even our everyday competitors were all reaching out immediately with the collective goal of providing whatever resources were required to get I-95 opened back up as quickly as possible. It's a true testament to our industry's ability to mobilize quickly and efficiently in these emergency situations."

The other eight girders will be installed in the second phase of the project, which will reconstruct the other six lanes and reopen the road underneath the bridge. That part is expected to be finished in 2024.

"This is yet another example of structural steel getting drivers back on the road quickly," said National Steel Bridge Alliance senior director of market development Jeff Carlson, PE. "The industry has a history of rallying to get emergency repairs off the ground at lightning speed, and I'm proud that steel has come to the rescue yet again."

I-95 initially reopened 12 days after the crash with a temporary six-lane roadway made of recycled foamed glass aggregate fill. That allowed traffic to flow on the innermost six lanes while construction crews placed girders and paved the road on each side. The second phase will begin with removal of the temporary road. The last eight girders will be delivered to the site by Jan. 1.