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June 22, 2023

NASCAR sends jet dryer to aid I-95 repair work in Northeast Philly as highway nears reopening

The tool from Pocono Raceway will be used to keep the new, temporary roadway dry as workers pave and stripe it

Transportation I-95
I-95 NASCAR Dryer @PoconoRaceway/Twitter

Pocono Raceway's NASCAR Jet Dryer truck was sent to Northeast Philly on Thursday to help keep the new I-95 roadway dry to finish paving and striping. The highway is slated to reopen this weekend, two weeks after a truck fire destroyed a span near the Cottman Avenue exit.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro won't let a rainy weather forecast deter his weekend target to reopen the section of I-95 in Northeast Philly that was destroyed in a truck fire two weeks ago.

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. The engine points toward the ground to dry the road surface, which will allow crews to finish paving and striping even if rain delays their work.

Over the last week, the gap in the highway near the Cottman Avenue exit was backfilled with 2,000 tons of a recycled glass aggregate and barriers were added to the new roadway. The final steps involve fully paving the road and striping it to create three lanes of traffic heading in each direction.

Earlier this week, Shapiro said crews would have the temporary new roadway ready to reopen at some point this weekend, wrapping up the first phase of the highway rebuild.

"We need, sort of, patches of dry time in order to complete paving and really more importantly, the striping process," Shapiro said Thursday morning during an appearance on FOX29's "Good Day Philadelphia." "So, get this. We reached out to our friends at Pocono Raceway and I'm a big NASCAR guy, so is our amazing PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. They are bringing in today the jet dryer that's used along the Pocono Raceway track to jet dry this section of I-95 to allow us to do the paving and striping together."

In a tweet, Pocono Raceway said it will be "on standby" on the highway to dry the road as needed when it rains.

PennDOT's I-95 livestream showed the red Chevy Silverado parked on the highway on Thursday.

NASCAR uses this method to dry its tracks after rainfall, but takes it a step further with the Air Titan 2.0 system that carries a series of dryer tubes on a wheeled apparatus rigged to a truck. The pro racing league says Air Titan 2.0 delivers air at a speed of 568 mph.

Once the temporary road is open, the next phase of the project entails constructing a permanent bridge reconnecting the highway at the site. The temporary road will remain open to traffic through the bridge construction.

The entire I-95 rebuild is being funded by the federal government at a projected cost of $25-30 million.