Aerial view of the damaged section of I-95 in Philadelphia the day after the fire and collapse. (WPVI-TV/6ABC via AP)
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PHILADELPHIA — The race to reopen a stretch of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia is being boosted by a truck-mounted jet dryer that is normally used to keep moisture off the track. Pocono Raceway.
A vehicle-mounted kerosene-powered turbine arrived on June 22 at the scene of the June 11 underpass fire. Both directions of the busy highway were closed, reducing traffic on the East Coast’s main north-south highway.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said this week that he expects a a temporary solution must be put in place so that traffic can resume in the coming daysbut with rain forecast The jet dryer at the NASCAR track should help dry the asphalt enough so the lines can be painted.
A PennDOT spokeswoman said the idea came from Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll, a former state legislator who represented a district near Long Pond Racetrack, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia. Carroll reached out to a contact at Pocono Raceway and they agreed to make it available.
Ben May, president of the circuit said it does not charge the state for use of the dryer.
“Absolutely not,” May said June 22, calling it “a very, very, very small contribution to the spectacular work being done by a lot of people.”
Paving began on June 21 and continued until noon on June 22. Alexis Campbell, PennDOT Press Secretary said the machine, which blows air at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, will be used to dry fresh asphalt just before highway lines are painted on it.
We arrived in Philadelphia with our Jet Dryer. Thanks to @PAStatePolice brings us to the I-95 bridge.
We are here to help if we are called!
– Pocono Raceway (@PoconoRaceway) June 22, 2023
Although Shapiro said the road would reopen this weekend, rain forecasts make the timeline uncertain.
A section of the northbound elevated highway collapsed after a a semi-trailer carrying gasoline overturned and caught fire. The driver was killed and the resulting damage also required the demolition of the southbound lanes. A replacement bridge will eventually be built.
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