The Lead

Pa. Gov. Shapiro signs disaster declaration for I-95 collapse in Philadelphia

By: - June 12, 2023 12:35 pm

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro signs a disaster declaration for the Interstate 95 collapse in Philadelphia on Monday, June 12, 2023 (Shapiro administration photo).

A day after a fiery truck explosion brought down a section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, Gov. Josh Shapiro has signed a “disaster emergency” proclamation clearing the way for state aid and assistance to start flowing to the site.

To expedite the rebuilding of I-95 and cut through the red tape, this morning, I issued a disaster declaration, allowing the Commonwealth to immediately draw down federal funds and move quickly to begin the repair and reconstruction process,” Shapiro said in a statement his office issued on Monday.

Officials shuttered a stretch of the highway between Woodhaven Road and Aramingo Avenue after a tanker truck, carrying 8,500 gallons of petroleum product, burst into flames early on Sunday morning, NBC News reported, citing the U.S. Coast Guard.

The intense heat of the fire caused the interstate’s northbound lane at Cottman Avenue and State Road to collapse, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. No one was injured in the accident. And repairs are expected to take months, the newspaper reported.

A section of I-95 in Philadelphia collapses. The state’s response. What local lawmakers said

The declaration Shapiro signed Monday immediately frees up $7 million in state funds for reconstruction work, the administration said. 

It also authorizes the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the state Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania State Police to “use all available resources and personnel, as necessary.”

The declaration, which remains in effect for 21 days, unless it is extended by the General Assembly, further “[waives bidding and contracting procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law,” the administration said in its statement.

“My administration is in regular contact with our federal partners, who have pledged their complete support and assistance as we create alternative routes and rebuild I-95,” Shapiro said. 

Shapiro, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll, State Police Commissioner Christopher Paris, and PEMA Director Randy Padfield visited the site on Sunday, joining Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and other officials, where they held a briefing on the “coordinated response” between the state and city and federal partners, the administration said.

Some 160,000 people use the highway every day, WHYY-FM in Philadelphia reported, citing state Department of Transportation data.

“My administration is all hands on deck to repair I-95 as safely and as efficiently as possible,” Shapiro said.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.