PHILADELPHIA — The temporary lanes for the damaged section of Interstate 95 in Northeast Philadelphia will reopen noon Friday, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office announced.
“Thanks to the crews that have worked around the clock to repair I-95, six lanes of traffic will reopen to motorists at 12:00 PM ET tomorrow,” Shapiro’s office said in an advisory Thursday evening.
On June 11, a tanker truck explosion caused a portion of I-95 to collapse, killing the driver and closing the busy highway in both directions.
Earlier this week, Shapiro said the lanes would reopen “this weekend,” well ahead of what initially had been anticipated as months of work.
With crews working around the clock (and having their efforts livestreamed), I-95 is on the verge of reopening with the temporary highway built on a bed of recycled glass bottles repurposed as gravel.
“We haven’t always had a can-do attitude around here, that we can get big things done, that we can get it done quickly and safely,” Shapiro told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to change that attitude of people being surprised to folks expecting excellence from us.”
The recycled glass aggregate has been used to backfill several other Philadelphia-area projects, including an overnight parking apron for airplanes at Philadelphia International Airport.
“It’s safe, it’s sound, it’s ready to go to work,” PennDot Secretary Mike Carroll said Tuesday.
Even after I-95 reopens, the Cottman Avenue exits are expected to remain closed as crews work to fully reconstruct the highway, PennDot has said.
There is no official timeline for the full reconstruction. Officials have said they expect it to take months.
Crews will rebuild the outer sections of the bridge. Once completed, traffic will be diverted to those four lanes — two in each direction — as the recycled glass aggregate is removed and the inner sections of the bridge are built.
Once completed, I-95 will fully reopen with four lanes in each direction.
Meanwhile, the work is getting a boost from a truck-mounted jet dryer that’s normally used to keep moisture off the track at the Pocono Raceway.
A vehicle-mounted, kerosene-fueled turbine arrived Thursday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said this week he expects a temporary fix to be in place so traffic can resume in the coming days, but with rain in the forecast the NASCAR track’s jet dryer is expected to help by getting the asphalt dry enough for lines to be painted.
A PennDOT spokeswoman said the idea came from Carroll, a former state lawmaker who represented a district near the racetrack in Long Pond, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia. Carroll got in touch with a contact at the Pocono Raceway and they agreed to make it available.
Raceway president Ben May said he isn’t charging the state for use of the dryer.
“Absolutely not,” May said Thursday, calling it “a very, very, very small contribution to the spectacular work that’s being done by a lot of people.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report