PennDOT Team Honored for Swift Response to I-95 Bridge Collapse

PennDOT

HARRISBURG, PA — On June 17, 2024, Governor Josh Shapiro awarded employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) with the Governor’s Awards for Excellence. The recognition came in response to their rapid and effective action following the collapse of the bridge carrying Interstate 95 over Cottman Avenue in northeast Philadelphia on June 11, 2023.

Immediate Action Following the Collapse

The I-95 bridge collapse was a dramatic event that unfolded in the early morning hours due to a fire. The collapse prompted a swift response from the PennDOT District 6 team. Governor Shapiro quickly issued a Declaration of Disaster Emergency, enabling the team to mobilize contractors and secure materials rapidly. This included the use of locally made recycled foam glass aggregate for the temporary roadway.

Rapid Rebuilding Effort

The coordination between PennDOT, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the City of Philadelphia, and local contractors was remarkable. Crews worked around the clock to demolish the damaged roadway and construct a temporary roadway. Their efforts paid off when I-95 reopened to traffic just 12 days after the collapse, far earlier than experts had predicted.

Recognition and Pride

PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll expressed his pride in the team’s work, noting their tireless efforts under challenging circumstances. “I’m incredibly proud that PennDOT and the District 6 team have been recognized with this award for their heroic efforts in getting I-95 reopened,” he said.

Honorees from District 6

The honorees, all based in PennDOT’s Philadelphia regional office, played key roles in the successful response. They include:

  • Din Abazi, District Executive
  • David Adams, Senior Civil Engineer Manager
  • Louis Belmonte, Transportation District Executive
  • Charles Davies, Senior Assistant District Executive, Design
  • Andrew Firment, Highway Administration Program Manager 2
  • Daniel Gleason, Transportation Construction Manager 3
  • Daniel Graham, Senior Highway Maintenance Manager
  • Francis Hanney, Senior Assistant District Executive, Operations
  • Krys Johnson, Transportation Community Relations Coordinator 1
  • Brad Rudolph, Deputy Communications Director 2
  • Harold Windisch, Senior Assistant District Executive, Construction
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Global Attention and Community Unity

The collapse and the subsequent rebuilding effort garnered global attention. A live 24/7 camera feed allowed people worldwide to follow the progress made by the construction. High-profile visits from President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and other state and federal officials underscored the significance of the event.

The rapid reopening exceeded expectations and fostered a sense of unity and camaraderie within the Philadelphia community. Permanent repairs were completed, and the bridge fully reopened to traffic on May 24, 2024, less than a year after the collapse.

Swift Response and Infrastructure Resilience

The quick response to the I-95 bridge collapse highlights the importance of preparedness and the ability of government agencies to act swiftly in emergencies. The use of innovative materials and efficient coordination among various agencies ensured minimal disruption to a critical transportation artery.

This event also underscores the value of infrastructure resilience and the need for ongoing investment in maintenance and repair. The rapid reconstruction of the bridge not only restored a crucial transportation link but also demonstrated effective crisis management and the potential for public-private partnerships in addressing infrastructure challenges.

In conclusion, the recognition of the PennDOT District 6 team underscores their exceptional dedication and innovative spirit. Their swift action in the face of disaster restored a vital piece of infrastructure and provided a model for emergency response and community resilience.

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