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The demolition of the damaged section of Interstate 95 that crumbled last weekend after a tanker truck hauling gasoline crashed and burst into flames is now complete and construction is underway to rebuild the section of road, Pennsylvania’s governor announced Thursday evening.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has hired a contractor to backfill the gap in the roadway so that it can be paved over. Once complete, according to PennDOT, vehicles can return to the section of I-95 as crews work on a permanent bridge while keeping six lanes of traffic open.
PennDOT also shared photos of what the temporary roadway will look like, and a live feed showing the construction site and rebuilding process is available on their website. Real-time travel times and delays due to the incident will also be posted on PennDOT’s website.
Authorities have put detour routes in place and the Philadelphia Police Department is providing on-site access to local businesses near the bridge collapse for employees and customers.
“This is the speediest, safest way that will allow us to get back to capacity on 95,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said at a Wednesday news conference.
Earlier in the week, Shapiro said fully restoring the overpass would likely take months.
A tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline crashed underneath the highway Sunday and flames engulfed a section of the interstate. The driver, identified as 53-year-old Nathan Moody, was killed.
The northbound stretch of the interstate collapsed on top of the truck. The southbound lanes were also damaged.
I-95 collapse detours
Crews spent days working around the clock conducting demolition work.
The next step will be to fill and pave the gap in the highway so traffic can resume on the Interstate as teams work to permanently rebuild the overpass, Shapiro said.
Shapiro did not say how much repairs will cost but has declared a state of emergency and allotted $7 million in state funds for reconstruction. The Federal Highway Administration sent the state an initial payment of $3 million, the head of the agency told a Senate committee Wednesday. In addition to emergency operations and repairs, the agency says that money can be used to help permanently restore the roadway.
The collapse has caused “extensive disruption for the movement of people and goods through that region,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this week when he visited the site.
“That is a lot of America’s GDP moving along that road every day,” he said.
“Every resource that is needed will be made available” to assist in restoring the roadway, he added.
Commuters have been forced to find alternative routes to work, leading to traffic congestion beyond the interstate.
Before the collapse, the bridge was structurally sound and met current standards, Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll said during the news conference Wednesday.
“The bridge was only 10 years old,” he said.
Jennifer Homendy, who heads the National Transportation Safety Board, said the investigation may examine the structural makeup of the bridge.
The NTSB, the federal agency that investigates aviation crashes and other malfunctions related to railroads, transit systems and highways, is also zeroing in on the truck to determine what could have gone wrong.
The company operating the gasoline tanker, Penn Tank Lines, was also in good standing prior to the collision, the NTSB said Wednesday. The agency cited information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates commercial vehicles.
CNN has reached out to Penn Tank Lines for comment.