The in Philadelphia occurred after a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gas to a local Wawa failed to make a turn and flipped on its side, triggering a massive fire, officials said Monday.
Human remains were later recovered from the cab of the truck, which exploded in the Sunday morning accident near the busy highway’s Cottman Avenue exit, according to the local ABC affiliate.
The tanker burst into flames after tipping over, causing the I-95 lanes above the roadway to weaken and .
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll, meeting at the scene with other officials Monday, noted that the flames also left the southbound lanes badly damaged, with the demolition of any unsteady roadway set to begin later in the day.
Officials said there is still as to when the stretch of highway, which typically carries 160,000 vehicles a day, will be rebuilt.
The press conference came after Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro issued a disaster declaration over the collapse to try to speed up the reconstruction process.
US Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), who represents the Philadelphia area, told reporters Monday that they remain in touch with the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to secure federal funds to pay for the reconstruction.
They praised local law enforcement and first responders for their quick action in closing off the road before the bridge collapsed.
“This could’ve been much, much worse in terms of loss of life,” Boyle said. “We need as many federal dollars as possible to meet this challenge. This is a critical roadway not just for northeast Philadelphia, not just for the Philadelphia area, but for the entire mid-Atlantic.
“I-95 stretches from Maine to Miami,” he noted. “I dare you to find a more densely populated 40- to 50-mile area around I-95 than right here where we’re standing. People are going to be impacted from New York City to well south of here.”
The announcement that the southbound lanes would need to be demolished comes after retired Philly police Sgt. Mark Fusetti shared video of the moment the lanes began to dip as he drove over them Sunday.
Video from inside his car shows the billowing black clouds engulfing the northbound lanes, and as Fusetti drives past a smoky archway, he hits a sudden bump on the southbound side, which knocks his camera over.
“When I drove through it, I hit a bump, it felt like a bump. The bump I’m hitting is the southbound side of 95 that is now buckled,” Fusetti told CBS News on Monday morning.
“It felt like hitting a curb, too. That’s how low the highway was at the time that I went over.”
Officials said the demolition of the lanes should be completed Monday and pave the way for the reconstruction to commence.
The city has been working around the clock to ensure alternative routes are available, with Carroll noting that they saw a successful morning commute Monday.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the agency has added extra capacity and service to alternative routes to help ease traffic, with more pathways expected to open Tuesday.