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June 23, 2023

I-95 reopens in Northeast Philly less than 2 weeks after highway overpass collapsed

Motorists traveling in each direction now can use temporarily lanes while repair work continues on the highway. Officials urge them to heed the 45 mph speed limit

Transportation I-95
I-95 Philly Reopens Provided image/Office of the Governor

A firetruck carrying the Phanatic, Gritty and other Philadelphia mascots traveled over the temporary I-95 lanes to mark the highway's reopening in Northeast Philly on Friday, June 23.

After nearly two weeks of rapid construction, I-95 is open again in Northeast Philadelphia. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro announced the reopening with Mayor Jim Kenney and several other officials around 11 a.m. Friday morning. To mark the occasion, a fire truck carrying Gritty, the Phanatic and Swoop then drove over the temporary I-95 lanes that will allow motorists to use the interstate while a permanent structure is being built. By noon, the highway had reopened to all travelers.

"Over the past 12 days, the eyes of the country have been on Pennsylvania. We showed them what our grit and determination can accomplish, and we showed them good government in action," Shapiro said. "This is what we can do when government at all levels come together to get the job done. Let this serve as an example to all that Pennsylvania can do big things. When we come together, when we’re determined, we can do big things in this city and in this commonwealth – and this is proof."

It will take months to fully repair the I-95 overpass in Northeast Philly, which collapsed on Sunday, June 11 due to a tanker truck fire. But the roadway reopened within two weeks thanks to round-the-clock construction of the temporary lanes. The road work continues to be livestreamed.

Drivers now can travel through the I-95 segment by using three 11-foot temporary lanes in both directions. Officials urged them to heed the 45 mph speed limit and to drive carefully, because there are no shoulders on the temporary roads and they are still considered an active work zone. Engineers are currently designing a permanent bridge to be constructed over Cottman Avenue. 

The fire and subsequent highway collapse claimed the life of Nathan Moody, the 53-year-old driver of the tanker truck. The Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, Union and 76ers have donated a combined $50,000 to establish a trust for Moody's daughter.

Moody lost control of his tanker truck while navigating a curve along the Cottman Avenue off ramp, officials said. The truck fell on its side beneath the I-95 overpass, rupturing and igniting its fuel tank, which was filled with gasoline. Heat from the fire melted the highway's steel support beams, causing the northbound side of the bridge to collapse. The southbound side sustained damage that required its demolition. 

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