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I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia to fully reopen this week nearly 1 year after collapse, PennDOT says

I-95 south reopens in Philadelphia nearly 1 year after collapse
I-95 south reopens in Philadelphia nearly 1 year after collapse 01:16

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Traffic on I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia will return to normal this week nearly one year after a fiery tanker crash caused a portion of the highway to collapse at Cottman Avenue, PennDOT said on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, the southbound side of the highway fully reopened. The northbound side is set to fully reopen on Friday.

It's part of a phased opening of the center section of the I-95 bridge, which will allow eight lanes of traffic – four south and four northbound – to flow on the highway. The northbound off-ramp at Cottman Avenue will also open, according to PennDOT. 

There will be some lane closures as the reopening gets underway. From 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, the two left lanes on the northbound side of I-95 will be closed between the Betsy Ross Bridge and Academy Road interchanges.

PennDOT said a single lane will also reopen on the newly constructed ramp from northbound I-95 to Cottman Avenue by 5 a.m. on Friday. The ramp will have enhanced traffic safety, new signage and a High Friction Surface Treatment, which will help vehicles stay in their lane and improve stopping distances around curves and other locations, according to PennDOT. 

This week's construction by PennDOT will finish the middle section of the highway after traffic was moved to the outer lanes of I-95 in November 2023

Crews were able to reopen the highway -- and livestream the work -- 12 days after the collapse with a temporary roadway with six lanes atop a bed of a lightweight rock-like glass aggregate made by a company in Delaware County

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and other local officials will be at the site of the once-collapsed highway on Thursday to commemorate the eight lanes reopening on I-95.

The fiery crash in 2023 left the driver of the tanker truck, 53-year-old Nathan Moody, dead. 

Philadelphia travelers prepare for busy roads and airports ahead of Memorial Day weekend 02:36

Good news for holiday travelers

The full reopening comes as travel for Memorial Day weekend ramps up, with AAA predicting more than more than 465,000 people in the Philadelphia region will hit the road by car for the holiday.

"To have 95 fully reopen in time for not just the Memorial holiday weekend but for the entire summer driving season is wonderful news for local commuters, summer travelers, and those traveling through our region," Jana Tidwell, an AAA spokesperson, said. 

"They did some great work and it got done ahead of schedule," Tiffany, of North Philadelphia, said. 

"Still going to be a lot of traffic," Philadelphian Alfred Poole said, "but it's good that it's opening up."

AAA predicts record number of travelers in Philadelphia region will hit the road for holiday weekend 02:05

Tacony business affected by I-95 collapse looks forward to lanes reopening

Stephanie Lawrence's drive to work in Tacony on Thursday morning wasn't what she was used to.

"There were people flying next to me, and then I was like, it's open," she said.

Less than a year after a deadly tanker crash caused a portion of I-95 to collapse just blocks from her business, four newly constructed southbound lanes of 95 reopened. She can't wait.

CBS Philadelphia first introduced the owner of Awesome Little Cupcakes the day after the collapse last June, checking in with her as the ongoing rebuild took place.

Lawrence said business isn't back to where it was before 95 collapsed, but with it fully reopening, she's hopeful that'll change.

The project comes with a $20 million price tag. PennDOT notes federal dollars cover 90% of it.

Eight newly constructed lanes are completed, welcoming back 160,000 cars who use it daily.

Tacony business impacted by I-95 collapse in Northeast Philadelphia excited for reopen lanes 02:22
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