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Major US highway reopens two weeks after overpass collapse

(AFP)

A section of one of America’s busiest highways, which collapsed some two weeks ago after a fire, reopened Friday, officials said.

An overpass on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia collapsed on June 11 after a tanker crossing underneath burst into flames. One person died and several traffic lanes were taken out of service.

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Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro earlier predicted it would take months to fully restore the road, but state transportation authorities were able to construct a temporary roadway, filling it in with a recycled glass aggregate and paving over it.

Among the solutions authorities used to speed up their work was a vehicle ordinarily used to dry car racing tracks after the rain — to make the asphalt dry enough for lines to be painted.

In a statement Friday, President Joe Biden lauded the round-the-clock efforts by operating engineers, laborers, and carpenters.

He added that the emergency repair was federally funded and “all approvals were given as quick as possible.”

Referring to the damaged I-95 stretch, he said: “I know how important it is to people’s quality of life, the local economy, and the 150,000 vehicles that travel on it every day.”

Responding to questions about the speed of the operation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll said Friday: “This road is being opened because it’s completed, safely completed and ready for traffic.”

The material used “has been rigorously tested and used in multiple applications,” he added.

Vehicles will be able to travel on six lanes of traffic instead of the usual eight, at a limited speed as work continues on both sides to rebuild a permanent roadway.

The I-95’s closure at the northeast entrance to Philadelphia — a city of over 1.5 million residents — had severely disrupted traffic to and from New York.

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