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August 29, 2023

Steel beams to be installed where truck fire caused I-95 collapse

Traffic may be delayed by lane restrictions in Northeast Philly on Tuesday and Thursday

Transportation Highways
I-95 Northeast Philly Provided Image/PennDOT

Crews will install steel beams this week to support a permanent roadway on I-95 where a tanker-truck fire destroyed a portion of the highway in June. The temporary roadway is shown above.

Work began Tuesday to install steel beams for a permanent roadway along the section of I-95 that was destroyed in June by a tanker-truck fire, which caused a portion of the highway bridge to collapse.

Since then, a temporary highway has been built, the lanes of which will impacted by construction on Tuesday and Thursday, officials said. Work is being done in the area of Cottman Avenue.

On the southbound side, only two lanes will be open instead of three until 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The northbound side will be limited to two lanes on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

On the morning of June 11, 53-year-old truck driver Nathan Moody lost control of his fuel tanker while navigating the northbound off-ramp. The vehicle was carrying about 8,500 gallons of fuel, which caught fire when the truck fell on its side. The flames melted the support beams on the northbound side of the bridge, which then collapsed. The southbound side was demolished days later.

Construction crews worked 24-7 over the next 12 days to backfill and pave the highway and create a temporary road with three lanes traveling in each direction. That section of I-95 carries about 160,000 vehicles every day and is a major commercial corridor for the region and beyond.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still completing an investigation into the cause of the crash. The federal government is funding the highway repair. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said the ongoing investigation will determine whether TK Transport, the trucking company whose vehicle was involved in the crash, will be held liable for any costs associated with the rebuild.

In July, PennDOT deployed automated speed enforcement at the temporary road. Over the last two months, crews have been preparing and reinforcing new bridge abutments so they can install the steel beams. 

PennDOT said there will be additional lane restrictions later this year when crews shift to building the outer lanes of the permanent roadway.