PHILADELPHIA – Motorists endured longer commute times and clogged roadways Monday after part of Interstate 95 collapsed in Philadelphia, closing a portion of one of the East Coast’s busiest highways.
The indefinite closure began Sunday after a tanker truck caught fire under the interstate, leading to a partial collapse of the overhead lanes.
“This is really going to have a ripple effected throughout the region,” AAA spokesperson Jana Tidwell told The Associated Press. She recommended that people avoid peak travel times and warned that drivers were likely to see additional costs, including “more gasoline, more wear and tear on their cars, additional tolls, in terms of leaving Pennsylvania into New Jersey and then back into Pennsylvania.”
The impact of the closure is likely complicated by the fact that there are no “perfect” alternatives to the collapsed portion of I-95, WPVI-TV reported. The interstate, which stretches from Miami to the Canadian border in Maine, is the main north-south highway on the East Coast, according to Reuters.
“It’s looking like more than an hour on a typical 40-minute commute,” John Heinrich, an electrician who usually takes I-95 to get to his job site, told The New York Times. “We probably got on the road about 45 minutes sooner than we normally would.”
Officials warned that traffic was likely to be snarled as authorities assess the damage and begin demolition. On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted that the I-95 closure “will have significant impacts on the city and region until reconstruction and recovery are complete.”
Authorities plan to rebuild the destroyed section of I-95, though the exact timing of the project remains unclear. On Monday, Gov. Josh Shapiro said his administration was “all hands on deck to repair I-95 as safely and as efficiently as possible.”
In the meantime, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said it will expand its capacity and service to provide more alternatives for commuters.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has released the following detour routes:
- For I-95 Southbound: Route 63 West (Woodhaven Road), U.S. 1 South, 76 East, 676 East
- For I-95 Northbound: I-676 West, I-76 West, U.S. 1 North to Route 63 East (Woodhaven Road)
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