Philadelphia I-95 Overpass Collapses After a tanker fire.
Authorities pleaded with commuters to be patient as Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro issued a warning that repairs might take “some number of months.”
In the early hours of Sunday morning, a section of Interstate 95 in northeast Philadelphia was closed in both directions after a tanker truck that was allegedly transporting petrol caught fire and collapsed, according to officials.
The collapse left the authorities rushing to find solutions to ease traffic on Monday morning as well as for weeks to come and evaluating what alternatives they had to make up for the loss of this key highway portion, which transports roughly 160,000 vehicles daily.
According to Brad Rudolph, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, an accident or other incident started a fire underneath the highway lanes, which run overhead, as a tanker driver was on an I-95 North offramp.
He said, “With the heat of the fire as big as it was, that structure quickly collapsed.” Then, because the southbound structure had also been damaged by the fire, it was shut down.
The collapse and fire that occurred around 6:20 a.m. on Sunday afternoon, according to Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, at least one vehicle is still trapped beneath the collapsed roadway, and authorities are still trying to find “any individual or individuals” who may have been hurt.
He described the sight on the highway as being in “remarkable devastation,” adding, “I found myself, you know, praising God that no commuters who were on I-95 suffered injuries or dead.”
Mr. Shapiro stated that the southbound side of I-95 was not structurally sound and that the northbound section of the highway had entirely collapsed. He added that it would probably be “some number of months” before the motorway was reconstructed.
In order to speed up the process, Mr Shapiro said he would declare a disaster on Monday. He had received assurances from Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation for the federal government, that whatever resources were required would be made available.
He said that the road leading from Route I-95 North to Cottman Avenue, which sticks out and then bends beneath the motorway, was where the fire was located.
Mr. Rudolph added, “It seems like it was a car accident.” If you’re moving quickly, that ramp can be challenging.
A team was being sent by the National Transportation Safety Board to carry out a “safety investigation” into the event, the organisation announced on Twitter.
At a previous press conference, Dominick Mireles, the director of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, stated that the organisation was worried about any “environmental impacts” the fire and collapse could have on the Delaware River, which is adjacent to the damaged section of the highway.
There was “no impact to water quality” on Sunday afternoon, according to the Philadelphia Water Department, which gets some of its supply from the Delaware.
Staff of the Philadelphia Water Department are keeping an eye on the situation and are working together with other departments on the emergency response, according to the statement.
According to a news release from the city of Philadelphia, all lanes of Route I-95 between the Woodhaven and Aramingo exits as well as a few surrounding streets were shut down on Sunday afternoon.
The city urged commuters to utilise public transit and recommended them to arrange alternate routes for their weekday travels. According to the city, diversions were being made by state and municipal authorities, including on Pennsylvania Route 63, Interstate 676, and U.S. Route 1.
Leslie Richards, the general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, announced at a press conference on Sunday afternoon that cars would be added to scheduled trains and at three stations, parking would be done available.
Ms. Richards stated that “this emergency has posed a significant challenge for our transport network.” We’ll all need to be more patient in the following days.
Thomas Gernay, an assistant professor of engineering at Johns Hopkins University, added that even areas of the flyover that seemed to be in good shape may be destroyed. He added that the rehabilitation of similarly damaged highways takes several weeks.
He stated that while sprinkler systems and other methods are used to protect houses from fire, outside routes are not.
We are in a terrible situation where the fire starts just below a building, he added.
After a fuel tanker collision on a significant bridge in Connecticut in April, a portion of Interstate 95 was closed. According to authorities, the explosion resulted in one death and the release of home heating oil into the Thames River.
In Atlanta, a fire caused a portion of Interstate 85 to collapse in 2017. It took 44 days of nonstop work, according to C.W. Matthews, the contractor who restored the damaged road.