I-95 repair work underway

PennDOT optimistic about progress
PHILADELPHIA - March 18, 2008 A three-mile stretch of the highway in Philadelphia is closed for emergency repairs.

Police are directing traffic which is snarled as motorists detour around the damaged area onto small local streets.

Traffic.com is suggesting drivers use the following detour directions:
  • Drivers heading north should exit at WB I-676 to WB I-76 to NB RT-1 to EB Woodhaven Rd to I-95. Due to height restrictions, tractor trailers must exit for EB RT-291 to WB I-76 to NB RT-1 to EB Woodhaven Rd to I-95.
  • Drivers heading south should exit at WB Woodhaven Rd SB RT-1 EB I-76 East to EB I-676 to I-95. Due to height restrictions, tractor trailers must exit at Woodhaven WB to SB RT-1 to EB I-76 to WB RT-291 to I-95.

PennDOT has also closed several ramps to reduce traffic that enters onto I-95. The ramps include:

  • I-676 east ramp onto I-95 north
  • Lombard Street ramp onto I-95 north
  • Girard Avenue ramp onto I-95 north
  • The Race Street ramp to I-95 north
  • Allegheny Avenue ramp onto I-95 south
  • Betsy Ross Bridge ramp onto I-95 south
  • Bridge Street ramp onto I-95 south

The support beam is underneath I-95 between Girard and Castor Avenues.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been monitoring the crack, 2 inches wide and several feet long, since October, but its latest inspection showed it had grown and become potentially dangerous. The inspection Monday night found that the crack had grown and the column was now in a perilous position.

PennDOT has closed I-95 in both directions between the Aramingo Avenue/Betsy Ross Bridge and Girard Avenue exits.You can find information about detours from traffic.com by clicking here. Also check out the SEPTA I-95 Rider Guide if you regularly take public transportation.

PennDOT says this section of highway carries about 190,000 vehicles a day.

It's a major link between Center City and the suburbs as well as a big carrier of intercity traffic.

Repairs to the crack will keep both northbound and southbound lanes of the highway closed north of the city, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Blaum said.

"This crack has grown considerably since October," Blaum said.

"Obviously this is certainly not something we would do unless it is absolutely necessary, to shut down the interstate, but it's going to be done," he said. "Two spans of Interstate 95 basically connect right on top of that column."

"We don't feel it's going to fail at this moment, or even if traffic continues to run over it. But, again, looking at the bridge collapse in Minnesota, we don't want to take any chances," PenDOT's Les Toaso told Action News reporter Walter Perez.

A contractor will be inserting a temporary support under the highway at Ann Street to stabilize it. Once the temporary support is in place, the highway could reopen while permanent repairs are made.

"Our hope is that it will only take two days, but our primary responsibility is to see that I-95 is safe," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. He added that "safety, not speed" would be the primary consideration.

Truck traffic will be rerouted to give the affected area a wide berth, while automobile detours will be shorter.

If you travel this way, officials advise that you plan extra time for your drive or look for alternate routes until repairs are made.

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