I-95 collapse: Detours could cause rising prices for local consumers, Transportation Secretary says

Officials are set to begin planning the reconstruction of a collapsed portion of I-95 in Philadelphia as the United States Transportation Secretary toured the disaster site and as economists warn of potential economic impacts. 

According to Pennsylvania State Police, a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline was traveling in the northbound lanes and navigating a left-handed curve of an off-ramp when it overturned on Sunday morning.

The crash caused the gasoline to leak into the roadway and catch fire under I-95 at Cottman Avenue. 

Crews with the Philadelphia Police Department responded to the scene around 6:20 a.m. and were able to get the fire under control around 7:30 a.m.

During the response, the northbound lanes of the I-95 overpass collapsed down onto the remainder of the tanker truck. 

>> I-95 Philadelphia collapse: What you need to know about the damaged highway, reconstruction

On Monday afternoon, family members identified the driver of the tanker truck as 53-year-old Nathaniel Moody. Family members say officials informed them that human remains were recovered at the site of the crash and collapse, but they have not yet been positively identified.

>> I-95 collapse: Truck driver involved in tanker crash identified by family

Crews worked around the clock to remove the charred remains of the tanker truck and debris from the area as Governor Josh Shapiro issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for Philadelphia County, which is expected to help cut through the red tape and give the city quick access to resources that will help repair I-95 safely and efficiently. 


The proclamation makes $7 million immediately available for the reconstruction of the roadway, which is expected to take months. 

The designation also gives the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police available personnel resources. 

On Tuesday, United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Philadelphia to speak with workers and tour the collapse site. 

Buttigieg says crews have already begun working on the reconstruction of the collapsed portion of the interstate. 

"What I can tell is that they are already working in an innovative and very focused way to find the quickest safe way to make sure that this is restored and minimize impacts during that period," he said, noting that quick relief funding from the federal government is being made available to help aid in the disaster response. 

As many are concerned about the transportation impacts of the collapse, Buttigieg says it could also potentially have an impact on the price of goods. 

"This is what a lot of people don't always see behind those inflation numbers. It's the importance of our supply chain," he said. "Part of what goes into the cost of everything that we pay for in the store is the cost of shipping and if a route is disrupted, or if its longer or if trucks have to wait, that finds its way into the cost of things." 

While shipping costs only account for one part of the costs of goods, Buttigieg says the collapse will put "upward pressure until it can be completely restored." 

The National Transportation Safety Board is overseeing the investigation into the crash that led to the highway collapse, which officials have compared to Atlanta's I-85 collapse in 2017. 

>> What Philadelphia can learn from Atlanta's I-85 collapse

Secretary Buttigieg says the coordination efforts from city and state agencies cannot be taken for granted and he highlighted the speed of the response. 

"Obviously the first step to making sure that this is reconstructed is to tear down the compromising structure," he said. "I saw images same day that were collected, both in public media imagery and what we were able to get as an agency, and just the difference from then to now in not much more than 48 hours is striking. It reflects how quickly contractors and the public sector here have worked to get this underway." 

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Michael Carroll says a contractor has been selected to make repairs on the structure. Due to the emergency declaration signed by Gov. Shapiro, there was no bidding process and officials went with a contractor currently working on an existing I-95 construction project due to the availability of equipment and supplies. 

According to Carroll, officials are expected to release the details of the interstate's reconstruction plan on Wednesday. 


I-95 collapse: Surveillance video captures tanker crash, fire in Northeast Philadelphia

Newly obtained surveillance video captured the moment a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline crashed and caught fire underneath I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia. The resulting fire caused a portion of the roadway to collapse.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.