October 2018 – When reconstruction of the northbound side of I-95 at the Girard Avenue Interchange (Section GR3) was substantially completed in early fall, the inner half of the new pavement was put to immediate use carrying southbound traffic through the interchange for three-plus years of construction that is now underway to replace the southbound lanes between Columbia and Allegheny avenues (Section GR4).
Paving crews placed the last section of concrete pavement for the inside section of the new northbound viaduct in late summer. They then built crossovers north and south of the work zone and shifted three lanes of southbound traffic onto the northbound side starting just north of the Allegheny Avenue Interchange, and back to the southbound side at the southern end of the Girard Avenue Interchange.
With the traffic shift, work is now underway to dismantle the existing southbound viaduct. Demolition will continue through much of 2019, with crews cutting and removing sections of the old concrete pavement, dismantling the viaduct’s structural components, and eventually taking down its support piers.
Southbound I-95 traffic heading for the Girard Avenue Interchange will continue to be able to exit at the interchange by using a temporary ramp lane on the southbound side of I-95 that is accessible at the crossover north of Allegheny Avenue.
The off-ramp will be closed in fall 2019 so that new off- and on-ramps can be built as part of the new southbound lanes. The on-ramp to southbound I-95 will remain open during the entirety of GR4 construction.
While demolition of the existing viaduct progresses, crews are building the support columns for the new structure starting at Palmer Street and working north toward Ann Street.
During pier foundation construction close to residential areas, PennDOT is using “micro-piles” that are inserted into small diameter shafts drilled into the ground.
Inserting “micro-piles” is somewhat slower and more costly, but quieter and produces less vibration than the traditional hammer-driven piles that will continue to be used during construction of the mile-long southbound viaduct through areas not abutting residences.
Over the ensuing three-plus years, crews will build the new southbound viaduct, eventually setting the steel and concrete beams and pouring the concrete deck slab-by-slab. The new structure will provide four southbound through lanes as well as a continuous on-off lane that will run between the Allegheny Avenue on-ramp and the Aramingo Avenue on-ramp at the Girard Avenue Interchange.
Construction of the new viaduct will consume the lion’s share of the $312 million GR4 contract to reconstruct and improve southbound I-95 from north of Ann Street to south of Columbia Avenue.
Other improvements under the GR4 contract include reconstruction of the southbound I-95 pavement from the Allegheny Avenue on-ramp to Ann Street, and construction of noise barrier walls along southbound I-95 from Indiana Avenue to Palmer Street and along the southbound on-ramp from Aramingo Avenue. The contract also includes installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) components along I-95, U.S. 1 and U.S. 322 that will assist PennDOT and the City of Philadelphia with traffic and incident management on the region’s highways.
In addition, ongoing coordination with community groups through the I-95 Sustainable Action Committee (SAC) during the project’s design phase will deliver a number of quality-of-life improvements for those living near the interstate.
PennDOT is investing a significant share of the GR4 contract on improvements to Aramingo Avenue in the vicinity of the interchange, and upgrading the areas adjacent to and beneath I-95.
New sidewalks will be built on Aramingo Avenue Avenue between York and Cumberland streets; pedestrian-friendly LED lighting will be installed under sections of the new southbound and northbound viaducts; a multi-use trail will be built beneath and adjacent to the interstate; thematic form liners will be used to decorate wall surfaces on the viaduct’s abutments; and an expansive storm water management park will be constructed within the interchange and beneath I-95.
The new and improved southbound I-95 will connect to a 1,200 foot-segment of I-95 that was reconstructed in 2013-2015 under the $39.3 million GR2 contract.
Under improvements completed during earlier stages of construction at the interchange, Richmond Street was widened reconstructed and relocated to the east from Ann Street to the new intersection with Delaware Avenue and Aramingo Avenue.
These improvements to Richmond Street also included replacement of the old Conrail overpass between Lehigh Avenue and Somerset Street with three new bridges and installation of a new sanitary sewer collection system (sewer interceptor) at Somerset Street as part of the Richmond Street improvements.
Construction wrapped up in late 2015 at the southern end of the I-95 Girard Avenue Interchange, where crews rebuilt and widened 1,200 feet of I-95 between Palmer Street and Frankford Avenue to four lanes in each direction.
Earlier completed I-95 improvements south of Palmer Street also included installation of noise walls and replacement of I-95 bridges over Columbia Avenue, Marlborough Street and Shackamaxon Street. The new bridges have decorative walls and LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting. Special landscaped areas also were planted along Richmond Street adjacent to I-95. These quality of life enhancements were the result of interactions between PennDOT and community groups represented on the I-95 Sustainable Actions Committee (SAC).
PennDOT’s $42.9 million project to rebuild the 1,200 feet of I-95 south of the Girard Avenue Interchange and replace the bridges over Shackamaxon Street, Marlborough Street and Columbia Avenue won the 2015 Project-of-the-Year awards from the Delaware Valley Section of the American Society of Highway Engineers.
Following reconstruction of the northbound side of I-95 in 2018, the next construction contract will rebuild the southbound side of I-95, including the southbound viaduct, between Allegheny Avenue and Palmer Street.
Reconstruction and widening of the southbound side of I-95 is scheduled to begin in 2018, with demolition of the southbound viaduct between Ann and Palmer streets anticipated to begin in 2019.
Two additional contracts slated for construction after 2020 will rebuild the northbound and southbound I-95 viaducts between Frankford Avenue and Race Street, near the I-676 Interchange.