July 2018 – As reconstruction of the northbound side of I-95 between the Girard Avenue and Allegheny Avenue interchanges heads toward completion, early stage work is underway in advance of demolition of the southbound viaduct between Ann and Palmer streets toward year’s end.
Paving crews expect to place the last slab of concrete pavement on the new northbound viaduct this fall, shifting the focus of construction to rebuilding the southbound side. A new traffic pattern will be set up on the new northbound structure, moving three lanes of southbound traffic onto the new northbound side at a crossover just north of Allegheny Avenue.
Northbound traffic will be moved to the right, with a temporary concrete barrier separating southbound traffic from three lanes of northbound vehicles through the interchange area as the southbound side is rebuilt.
Work will then get underway to dismantle the existing southbound viaduct between Ann and Palmer streets, and eventually the off-ramp structure. Southbound I-95 traffic heading for the Girard Avenue off-ramp will remain on the southbound side until fall 2019, when it will be closed for reconstruction and detoured as the southbound viaduct is demolished and then rebuilt over the next several years.
Southbound demolition will continue through much of 2019, with crews cutting and removing sections of the old concrete pavement by truck, dismantling the viaduct’s structural components, and eventually taking down its support piers.
Prior to the traffic shift and ensuing demolition, crew this summer are building foundations for some of the piers that will support the new viaduct. PennDOT has designed the GR4 project to utilize construction practices and materials that are designed to help reduce the negative impacts of reconstruction on the neighborhoods that abut the interstate.
During pier foundation construction close to residential areas, PennDOT is using “micro-piles” (right) that are inserted into small diameter shafts drilled into the bedrock — not hammered — in the comparatively-soggy subsoil along the Philadelphia waterfront. The use of “micro-piles” is somewhat slower, more costly, but quieter 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 next four-plus years, crews then will build the new viaduct’s support piers and eventually set the steel and concrete beams that will carry four southbound travel lanes and over the Port Richmond and Fishtown neighborhoods between the Allegheny Avenue and Girard Avenue interchanges. New southbound on and off-ramps also will be built.
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 Palmer Street. 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.
Delaware Avenue Improvements
The widening and rebuilding of Delaware Avenue between Columbia Avenue and Aramingo Avenue has been substantially completed. Southbound traffic, which had been sharing the widened northbound lanes, was shifted onto the new alignment starting at Columbia Avenue in early summer.
PennDOT improved this section of Delaware Avenue to aid the movement of traffic to and from the new Girard Avenue Interchange ramps.
As part of the surface street improvements that will benefit area residents, a new parking lot at Columbia Avenue and Delaware Avenue across from Penn Treaty Park (above) was opened in early summer as well. And a new electronic message sign providing I-95 motorists with travel-time and emergency information has been installed between northbound and southbound Delaware Avenue near Columbia Avenue.
PennDOT also will invest a significant share of the GR4 contract in improving Aramingo Avenue through the interchange area and upgrading the areas adjacent to and beneath I-95. New sidewalks will be built on Aramingo Avenue Avenue between York and Cumberland streets, and Aramingo Avenue will be placed on a temporary road through the interchange between Delaware Avenue and York Street.
Ongoing coordination with community groups through the I-95 Sustainable Action Committee (SAC) during the project’s design phase has resulted in numerous quality-of-life improvements for those living near the interstate. GR4 construction will include installation of pedestrian-friendly LED underpass and under-structure lighting; construction of a multi-use trail beneath and adjacent to the interstate; thematic form liners on structure wall surfaces; opportunities for public parking and open spaces beneath the interstate; and creation of an extensive storm water management park within the interchange and beneath I-95.
Under improvements completed during earlier stages of construction at the interchange, Richmond Street (below) 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 (right) 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.