What's Up With That Waterfall on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philly?

Concrete being laid on the Schuylkill Avenue Viaduct is causing a wet drive for motorists on Interstate 76

What to Know

  • Runoff from concrete being set on the viaduct above the Schuylkill Expressway is sending a waterfall onto drivers below.
  • PennDOT says the water from drip hoses is necessary to properly cure the concrete.
  • The curing process will be repeated as workers pour more concrete on the span between Market and Walnut streets in Philadelphia.

Where can you get rained on during a sunny day?

Interstate 76.

Anyone who has driven along the Schuylkill Expressway between Market and Walnut streets in Philadelphia over the past few weeks may have noticed something: a waterfall.

The water is runoff from the ongoing construction project above I-76. The dripping water on both the westbound and eastbound lanes has, at times, slowed traffic and dripped on people with the sunroof open since July 28.

The water is needed to cure concrete pavement being poured as part of the Schuylkill Avenue viaduct replacement process, PennDOT said when asked by NBC10. Water is needed to help the concrete properly set.

“When concrete pavement is poured, there is a 14-day curing period where the fresh concrete is covered in burlap and perforated drip hoses are positioned atop the burlap to provide a steady supply of water to keep the burlap wet during the cure,” PennDOT spokesman Brad Rudolph said in a statement.

The water is necessary to prevent the new concrete from overheating - the curing process generates heat - and curing too quickly.

If the concrete cures too quickly, it will have a shorter lifespan, Rudolph said.

The runoff, described by PennDOT as “not a torrent, more of a steady drip” has forced drivers to temporarily flip on the windshield wipers or quickly close the sunroof as they go under the waterfall that looks like something out of a water park ride.

The runoff onto the highway is only water and doesn’t contain any concrete residue that could damage cars, PennDOT said.

The process will be repeated each time workers pour more concrete on the span until the end of the 2018 construction season. The contractor has, however, agreed to reduce the drip of water due to “recent concerns,” Rudolph said.

PennDOT plans to entirely close part of the span of I-76 or limit lanes on certain overnight hours next week. Here is the roadwork schedule, though PennDOT says it could change based on weather:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 4, and Wednesday, September 5, from 9 to 11 p.m., eastbound I-76 will be reduced to a single lane between the Vine Street Expressway (Interstate 676) and South Street interchanges.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following day, eastbound I-76 will be closed between the I-676 and South Street interchanges. Eastbound I-76 motorists will be directed to exit at 30th Street and follow the detour around 30th Street Station to Schuylkill Avenue and the ramp to eastbound I-76 at Walnut Street.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Sept. 7, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day, westbound I-76 will be reduced to a single lane between the South Street and I-676 interchanges.
  • Friday midnight to 5 a.m., westbound I-76 will be reduced to a single lane between the South Street and I-676 interchanges.

Also, a reminder that the westbound 30th Street ramp from I-76 remains closed until mid-September for repair and resurfacing.

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