I-95 Safety Questions Raised Over Dirt Piles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Construction crews are storing huge piles of soil around the support columns under I-95 in Fishtown. One Philadelphia leader is voicing concern it may lead to damage. NBC10’s George Spencer reports (Published Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014)

    Safety questions are being raised after dirt piles were found under a portion of I-95 in Philadelphia.

    Similar piles of dirt may be what caused a dangerous shift in the I-495 bridge in Delaware, which is now closed for repairs until at least Labor Day.

    Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz is asking PennDot to investigate after workers in his office noticed the dirt piles on and around pillars beneath a raised section of I-95 at the Girard Avenue Interchange.

    The dirt piles are at least 25 feet high, according to Butkovitz.  In his letter to PennDOT, Butkovitz  writes that the stockpiles can be seen from the section of Aramingo Avenue that travels under Girard Avenue adjacent to I-95.

    "As you are well aware, it was reported that engineers determined that a massive dirt mound dumped next to the I-495 Bridge over the Christina River in Wilmington may have caused underground soils to shift," Butkovitz writes. "This ultimately resulted in damage to several bridge columns and forced officials to close the bridge for emergency work."

    The controller asks PennDOT to provide justification for the dirt stockpiles "to ensure public safety."

    A PennDOT spokesperson later reached out to NBC10, claiming the department has not yet received the letter. They also sent out the following response regarding the dirt pile:

    Dirt was temporarily placed under Interstate 95 near Aramingo Avenue in late May (2014) for upcoming use as embankment material throughout the project area, including for two new bridges the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is building for Conrail as part of a $91.3 million project that is part of the I-95 Girard Avenue Interchange Improvement program.  PennDOT’s contractor began removing the dirt from underneath I-95 on June 12 and the mounds will be gone by late next week.  The short-term duration of the dirt underneath I-95 has not compromised the safety of the highway.