Gov. Josh Shapiro: How Pennsylvania Rebuilt I-95 in 12 Days and What We Learned


I-95 Bridge Repair Crew
Image and caption via The Washington Post.
Employees of Buckley & Co. cheer as Interstate 95 is reopened on June 23 in Philadelphia. Buckley & Co. was contracted by the state to rebuild the I-95 bridge.

When Interstate 95, one of America’s busiest highways, collapsed in Philadelphia, the prognosis was grim. Experts predicted months of traffic chaos.

But as Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro wrote in an Op-Ed column published by The Washington Post last week, thanks to decisive leadership, streamlined bureaucracy, creative problem-solving, and collaborative effort, the highway was rebuilt and reopened in a mere 12 days.

According to Shapiro, leadership was crucial. Project managers were empowered to make decisions, bypassing the often-circular bureaucracy. The demolition began as soon as the site was cleared, and a full plan to rebuild the roadway was ready when the demolition crews completed their work.

The bureaucracy was expedited. The permitting process was fast-tracked while maintaining safety standards. A disaster declaration signed within 24 hours after the collapse waived some bureaucratic requirements.

Creativity was encouraged. A 24/7 live stream allowed the public to track progress and feel ownership in the project. When backfill was needed, engineers pointed to a recycled glass product made by Aero Aggregates in nearby Eddystone. The ultra-lightweight foamed glass aggregate or UL-FGA is lighter than traditional dirt and weather-resistant.

When rain threatened to slow progress, a NASCAR turbo dryer was brought in from Pocono Raceway 100 miles north of the collapsed bridge to keep the work going.

Collaboration was key. Local, state, and federal officials coordinated closely with each other, and the collaborative approach extended to private contractors and organized labor. Over 200 members of the Philadelphia Building Trades worked around-the-clock to get the job done.

Read Josh Shapiro’s assessment of how Philadelphia rebuilt the collapsed I-95 bridge, showcasing the power of leadership, streamlined bureaucracy, creativity, and collaboration in The Washington Post.


Road Guy Rob explains how engineers were able to rebuild the I-95 overpass in 12 days.

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

MT Yes
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.