I-95 fully reopens in Philadelphia nearly year after deadly collapse

Friday, May 24, 2024
I-95 fully reopens in Philadelphia nearly year after deadly collapse
PennDOT announced Thursday morning that construction on the permanent lanes at Cottman Avenue in the city's Tacony neighborhood is finally complete.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Construction on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia is finally complete, nearly a year after a deadly collapse that disrupted traffic on a major Northeast artery.

PennDOT announced Thursday morning that work is finished on the permanent lanes at Cottman Avenue in the city's Tacony neighborhood.

All lanes on I-95 in the area were officially opened to traffic at 5 a.m. on Friday, as well as one lane on the newly constructed ramp from northbound I-95 to Cottman Avenue. This milestone comes just in time for holiday weekend travel.

That portion of I-95 is said to carry 160,000 vehicles a day.

PennDOT officials and local leaders celebrated the full restoration of Cottman Avenue and State Road on Thursday morning.

"Very excited about it," said Debbie Betten, who is the owner of Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse. "It's gone so fast. They've done such a great job."

Crews have been working around the clock to repair the bridge and northbound off-ramp at the Cottman Avenue Interchange the overpass to collapsed last June.

The NTSB said a driver in a tanker truck lost control and crashed, causing a fire and claiming his life.

The destruction, delays and detours also affected nearby businesses like Sharkey's Grill and Ale House and Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse on State Road.

RELATED: 'The road's falling': Philly drivers capture video of heavy flames before I-95 collapse

The fire was so big it had overtaken both northbound and southbound lanes on the highway, witness Lisa Taormino, who was commuting southbound on I-95 about 20 minutes before it collapsed, told ABC News.

"We went from 80 people on a Sunday to four," said George Kilcullen, who is a bartender at Sharkey's Grill and Ale House. "We went from 60 people on a Friday night to 10, so we probably lost about 80% of our business. It was very very bad."

"It was a rough couple of weeks," said Betten. "Fortunately, it wasn't much more than that."

They're excited to serve all of their customers again.

"It's going to be great, especially because we're getting right into our catering - our really busy season," said Betten.

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Meanwhile, drivers have been eager for an easier commute.

"I may revisit utilizing I-95 again if they do that because it's really quicker than Roosevelt Bouelevard," said Adrienne Hardy who is from Southwest Philadelphia.

PennDOT said on Wednesday and Thursday nights, crews will remove construction barriers and repaint lane markings, weather permitting. They said all southbound lanes will be restored by Thursday at 5 a.m. while the northbound lanes and off-ramp will reopen Friday at 5 a.m.

The ramp will have enhanced safety measures, like new signage and treatment on the road to help keep vehicles in their lane and improve stopping distance around curves.

"I think they are highway angels," said Hardy.

"It's the best they could do with the situation," said Kilcullen. "You can't get upset about it. You just have to be happy we had jobs and things are going to get better for all of us."