I-95 Collapses in Philadelphia

Key Interstate 95 in Philadelphia collapses after tanker fire, causing major disruptions. Cleanup efforts and transportation alternatives are underway.

I-95 Collapses in Philadelphia
Photo: CBS Philadelphia

Collapse of Key Highway in Philadelphia

A section of Interstate 95 (I-95), a significant freight artery, collapsed in northeast Philadelphia on Sunday, following a fire caused by an oil tanker that ignited beneath the elevated structure. The collapse occurred in the neighborhood of Tacony, resulting in a 7-mile long closure from Exit 25 at Academy Road to Exit 32, Linden Avenue. There were no immediate reports of injuries, but the road closure is expected to last for weeks, if not longer, impacting a significant number of commuters and freight traffic.

The Fire and Emergency Response

The fire broke out early Sunday morning from a commercial tanker truck carrying a petroleum-based product, causing the northbound lanes to collapse and southbound lanes to sustain significant damage. While the fire was contained later in the day, firefighters remained on site due to the large amount of involved product. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and state officials are exploring alternatives to detours for reconnecting the roadway. In response to the incident, Governor Josh Shapiro plans to issue a disaster declaration, allowing for immediate access to federal funds for the road's repair and reconstruction.

Impact on Transportation and Clean Up Efforts

The collapse of this section of I-95, which typically handles about 160,000 vehicles daily, could seriously affect the regional transportation system. While alternative routes have been suggested for motorists, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) plans to increase capacity and service on other routes to accommodate travelers. Clean-up efforts are underway to clear the collapsed section of the road, and officials are warning residents to expect delays in services like trash collection and bus routes in the area.

Environmental Concerns and Federal Assistance

Following the fire and road collapse, the US Coast Guard reported a sheen on the water, indicating potential water pollution due to gasoline spill from the tanker, which had the capacity to spill 8,500 gallons. However, state officials have assured residents that their drinking water remains safe, with containment efforts focused mainly on land. Federal assistance is expected, with Federal Highway Administration representative Shailen Bhatt set to visit Philadelphia and the President being briefed on the incident. The full cost of the repair remains unclear, but state and federal officials are committed to a speedy rebuild of I-95.

Sources: FreightWaves & CNN

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