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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Philadelphia. An important highway collapsed. Footage from moments before the incident, you can see fire and smoke. There are traffic disruptions

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A section of the East Coast highway I-95 collapsed after a fuel tanker caught fire under an overpass. A witness recorded thick black smoke and flames. The episode crashed shortly thereafter. No casualties were recorded. For the second day, drivers are forced to use detours and alternative routes. The police help to coordinate traffic, but traffic jams still form. Road repair can take up to several months.

A section of highway collapsed in Philadelphia on Sunday I-95. It happened as a result of a fire under the viaduct – for reasons not yet explained – of a truck carrying gasoline. No casualties were reported in the incident. However, traffic in both directions on the damaged section was stopped.

An eyewitness captured on video the thick black smoke and flames coming from under the overpass. The recording was made from inside a car driving on a stretch of highway, which collapsed shortly after.

Black smoke from a burning tanker. Moments before a section of American highway collapsesReuters, Tara Hallinan

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An important highway for the East Coast

The stretch of highway where the incident occurred is in Northeast Philadelphia, connecting the city with its northern suburbs. In the summer, sunbathers return home on Sundays. During the week, however, the route is crowded with local commuters and people heading to Boston, Baltimore and Washington. 160,000 vehicles pass through it daily.

This key highway for the East Coast is over three thousand kilometers long. It extends from Miami, Florida, and ends in Maine on the border with Canada.

Night work of emergency services after the collapse of a section of the highway in Philadelphia

Night work of emergency services after the collapse of a section of the highway in PhiladelphiaReuters

Drivers on detours, traffic jams form. “Tomorrow will be a real test”

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro urged residents to seek alternative routes, use commuter trains or work from home if possible. He announced that he would declare a state of emergency so that he could use federal funds to rebuild the section.

Americans have already felt the consequences of the road closure, i.e. long and frustrating commutes. On Monday morning, traffic jams formed near the damaged section, long lines of slow-moving cars also filled alternative detour routes, where increased traffic was noted.

Drivers on detours, traffic jams form.  Consequences of freeway collapse in Philadelphia

Drivers on detours, traffic jams form. Consequences of freeway collapse in PhiladelphiaReuters

KYW News Radio reporter Justin Drabick noted that Mondays tend to be low-traffic days. “In fact, tomorrow will be the real test,” he said.

“We’re all going to need extra patience in the coming days,” Leslie Richards, director general of the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, told a news conference on Sunday.

According to officials, the reconstruction of the motorway section will take several months. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) commissioned its experts to investigate.

Viaducts not adapted to high temperatures

Andy Herrmann, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said the overpasses are not designed to withstand the fire temperatures from a tanker fire, which is even more than a thousand degrees Celsius. He stressed that such incidents do not happen often.

The day after the collapse of the freeway section near Philadelphia

The day after the collapse of the freeway section near PhiladelphiaReuters

Main photo source: Reuters, Tara Hallinan



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