The Lead

After I-95 collapse, Pa. Sen. Fetterman calls for more resources for Philadelphia, SEPTA

By: - June 15, 2023 12:31 pm

Sen. John Fetterman (Photo via Fetterman Senate Office)

While speaking at a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works meeting on Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., spoke about critical issues facing the state, including the Interstate 95 overpass collapse that occurred in Northeast Philadelphia last Sunday. 

According to a statement issued by his office, Fetterman commended the quick delivery of $3 million in emergency relief funds and compared it to the swift response to the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse in western Pennsylvania last year.

Fetterman suggested SEPTA’s regional rail and subway lines should be used as tools to help ease congestion and keep Philadelphia’s streets safe while the highway is closed for reconstruction. 

He asked Shailen Bhatt, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, if emergency relief could help with SEPTA’s temporary operating costs to make transit an alternative for local travel.

Fetterman also accused the federal government of “dragging its feet in implementing expert advice for making streets safer.” 

Fetterman raised concerns about traffic being rerouted to the notoriously dangerous Roosevelt Boulevard following the I-95 overpass collapse and emphasized the need for them to be addressed quickly and thoroughly.

On Wednesday, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced the demolition of the collapsed overpass would be completed Thursday, days ahead of the expected completion date. 

Pa. Gov. Shapiro lays out plan to reopen, rebuild collapsed section of I-95 in Philadelphia

He vowed an “all hands on deck” approach and said the state had set up a 24/7 live feed to “chart progress and give everyone a sense of timing.” 

Shapiro has not given an exact timetable but it is expected to take months to rebuild the highway, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

In the last month, Fetterman said he’d sent two letters to the FHWA expressing his concerns regarding actions the federal government should be taking to make streets safer.

Fetterman said his letters addressed the FHWA’s failure to update the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control, key guidelines that could address rising fatalities and economic stagnation. Bhatt assured Fetterman that safety is the FHWA’s number one priority and promised to follow up.

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Samuel O'Neal
Samuel O'Neal

Samuel O'Neal is a summer intern for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. He is a senior journalism major at Temple University.