PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said the portion of Interstate 95 that collapsed in Philadelphia last week, snarling traffic in the region and creating headaches for commuters and truckers alike, will be open again this weekend.
Shapiro made that announcement during a news conference on Tuesday, saying the timeline was thanks to the hard work of the crews on site and the cooperation of local, state and federal officials.
"Based on the tremendous progress that we have made over the last 72 hours and the time it takes to complete the remaining steps, I can confidently state right here, right now, that traffic will be flowing here on I-95 this weekend," Shapiro said.
Workers made "significant additional progress" in filling the gap with glass aggregate over the holiday weekend to create a temporary roadway, Shapiro said.
Crews are lifting median and exterior barriers in place and, this week, they will begin paving three new lanes in both directions, Shapiro said.
He added the Pennsylvania State Police will escort the trucks carrying the pavers up I-95 to "make sure they get to the site safely and as quickly as possible."
As for whether the highway will reopen on Saturday or Sunday, Shapiro said that was dependent on weather conditions and how quickly the asphalt can cure.
The news came as a welcome surprise for drivers who have been forced to detour around the collapsed portion of the highway, as it was just on Saturday that Shapiro estimated that I-95 would be open within two weeks.
The estimated cost for this project is an estimated $25 million to $30 million, with the federal government pledging to cover a majority, if not all, of the cost.
This comes as round-the-clock work continues at the site of the collapse in Philadelphia's Tacony neighborhood.
Time-lapse video shows the original void created after an overpass collapsed due to a tanker truck fire. That gap is now nearly filled.
The stretch of the East Coast's main north-south highway collapsed early on the morning of Sunday, June 11, after a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline flipped over on an off-ramp and caught fire.
State transportation officials said the driver was trying to navigate a curve and lost control.
Pennsylvania's plan for the work involves trucking in 2,000 tons of lightweight glass nuggets for the quick rebuilding, with crews working around the clock until the interstate is open to traffic.
"I think it's important for folks to know that that glass aggregate is not new. It's been used in Pennsylvania for 7 to 8 years. It's underneath 95 in various sections already. In this application, because of the unique circumstances, this was the right product. It's safe. It's sound. It's ready to go to work," said State Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll.
Instead of rebuilding the overpass right away, crews will use the recycled glass to fill in the collapsed area to avoid supply-chain delays for other materials, Shapiro has said.
After that, a replacement bridge will be built next to it to reroute traffic while crews excavate the fill to restore the exit ramp, officials have said.
Once traffic is moving this weekend, a new timeline will begin for the permanent structure.