PennDOT’s initiative to reconstruct and improve Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania has continued during the Coronavirus pandemic as design and construction firms adapt to a changing workplace and a challenging public environment.
Following an approximate two month shutdown of most activities at the outset of the pandemic, construction crews resumed work in May 2020 at the Girard Avenue (GR4), Allegheny Avenue (AF1) and Bridge Street/Betsy Ross Bridge (BS4/H04) interchanges. By mid-2020, new construction projects got underway at the Bridge Street (Section BS1) and Betsy Ross Bridge (BR2) interchanges. Construction on the second project to improve surface streets at the Allegheny Avenue Interchange (AF2) is set for construction in Spring 2021.
All construction activities resumed with a COVID-19 safety plan that is still in effect. The Plan mandated protocols for social distancing, use of face coverings, personal and job-site cleaning protocols, management of entries to the jobsite, special signing, and relevant training.
As construction crews adapted and got back to work, PennDOT’s design engineers and associated engineering consultants adapted as well. Working remotely, and mastering the technology that allowed online meetings and planning sessions, they continued the detailed process of getting the next round of projects ready for construction.
For sure, challenges remain. A severe reduction in travel during the pandemic has significantly reduced two of PennDOT’s primary funding sources: State and Federal taxes collected at the gas pump. The negative impacts on PennDOT’s maintenance and construction budgets are still being calculated.
Despite these challenges, the reconstruction of I-95 in Pennsylvania continues because the need to rebuild this critical corridor cannot be delayed.