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Officials unveil Interstate 95 collapse repair plan in Philadelphia: ‘This is our championship’

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(PHILADELPHIA) — Officials unveiled on Wednesday a plan to repair an elevated section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia that collapsed when a tanker truck caught fire in the underpass.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said the “most efficient” way to get the impacted lanes reopened will be to backfill and pave over the Cottman Avenue underpass and then work to build a new bridge.

“Once complete, cars and trucks can return to this stretch of 95 and then we will work together to build a permanent bridge, while making sure we keep six lanes of traffic open at all times,” Shapiro said at a press conference.

A 24/7 livestream feed that will allow the public to watch the reconstruction in real time will be set up over the weekend, according to the governor.

Shapiro didn’t give a timeline on when the repaving of the underpass will be complete, but he stressed that it will be done “as quickly as possible.” The materials to fill the underpass will arrive on Thursday, he said.

“This is our championship,” he added. “We are ready to go and I am proud as hell to be on the team with all of these guys and gals standing behind me here today.”

The governor had told reporters on Sunday evening that “the complete rebuild” is expected “to take some number of months.”

The bridge collapsed on Sunday morning as a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline attempted to navigate a left-hand turn after exiting at the Cottman Avenue offramp of I-95 in Pennsylvania’s largest city, according to officials. Losing control through its turn, the truck fell on its side and ruptured its own tank. Once ignited, the fuel burned at a high enough heat to structurally compromise the concrete and steel I-beams of the overpass, officials said.

The northbound lanes of the affected segment collapsed, while the southbound lanes are compromised and will also need to be replaced. Crews have since removed most of the collapsed structure along with the tanker truck that was trapped beneath, officials said. They are now working to demolish the structurally unsound southbound portion of the roadway. The full demolition will be finished by Thursday, according to Shapiro.

The Pennsylvania State Police said Monday that a body was recovered from the wreckage and turned over to the Philadelphia County Medical Examiner and Coroner. While authorities have yet to identify the remains, the family of Nathaniel Moody told ABC News that he was the driver of the tanker truck and had died in the crash. Moody leaves behind a son and two daughters, his family said.

I-95 is one of the busiest travel corridors in the United States and serves as the main north-south highway on the East Coast. An average of more than 160,000 vehicles travel across the impacted section in Philadelphia every day, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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