‘Caution Water Drips Above': A Waterfall Just Keeps Dousing Drivers Along the Schuylkill Expressway

Concrete being laid on the Schuylkill Avenue Viaduct over Interstate 76 has already caused a wet drive for months and the water won't stop until it's cold enough to freeze. A 'Caution Water Drips Above' warning sign will alert drivers, PennDOT says.

What to Know

  • Runoff from concrete being set on the viaduct above the Schuylkill Expressway is sending a new waterfall onto drivers below.
  • PennDOT will install a digital message board saying "Caution Water Drips Above” to warn drivers of the water falling from the deck overhead.
  • The curing process will be repeated as workers pour more concrete on the span between Market and Chestnut streets into the winter.

Keep the windshield wipers ready when you drive Interstate 76 through Philadelphia — even on a clear day.

There's a waterfall dropping onto drivers along the Schuylkill Expressway near Philadelphia's 30th Street Station.

Anyone who has driven along I-76 between Market and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia over the past week or so may have noticed that the waterfall coming from the decking above has intensified.

The new section of concrete on the north side of the viaduct was placed by Philadelphia-based contractor Buckley & Company, Inc., on Oct. 2, PennDOT said, sending new water down onto the highway below. 

After NBC10's story Wednesday and following questions from drivers, PennDOT announced Thursday that they will install a digital message board saying "Caution Water Drips Above” to warn drivers of the water falling from the deck overhead.

The water is needed to cure concrete pavement being poured as part of the Schuylkill Avenue Viaduct replacement process, PennDOT said. Water helps the concrete segments properly set over two weeks, meaning this current waterfall, which is most intense in the westbound lanes closer to Market Street, is likely to continue into the weekend.

“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.

The deluge won't be stopping anytime soon. The ongoing construction project of laying sections of concrete above I-76 between Market and Chestnut streets is set to continue into winter, Rudolph confirmed to NBC10.

So the water will flow until it's cold enough for it to freeze. BCI has, however, agreed to reduce the drip of water, PennDOT said.

Unforeseen circumstances, including weather, could also delay or temporarily stop the project, Rudolph said.

As NBC10 told drivers back in August, the dripping water, which has moved along different parts of both the westbound and eastbound lanes of I-76 between Market and Walnut streets, has, at times, slowed traffic and dripped on people with the sunroof open since late July.

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

Sometimes, drivers have hit the brakes as they approached the sudden downpour. Pennsylvania State Police who monitor I-76 didn't respond to NBC10's request for any crash reports in the soaked area of roadway.

The concrete pouring is part of the three-plus year, $104-million project to rehabilitate the spans in the area of 30th Street Station.

The viaduct construction expanded Wednesday night when Chestnut Street was reduced to two travel lanes and a bicycle lane between 30th Street and Schuylkill Avenue. The lane restriction is expected to be in place for about six months.

The viaduct construction project near 30th Street Station is also causing PennDOT to divert traffic in the coming days.

  • Westbound I-76 will be reduced to a single lane between the South Street and I-676 interchanges from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. The lane reduction then takes place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning from Monday through Thursday, Oct. 18.
  • The ramp from westbound I-76 to 30th Street will be closed and detoured from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. The ramp detour will periodically happen during overnight hours from Monday through Thursday, Oct. 18.
  • Eastbound I-76 will be reduced to a single lane between the Interstate 676 and South Street interchanges Monday through Thursday, Oct. 18, from 9 to 11 p.m. and then completely closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning.

Detours will be posted. 

The full list of road closures, lane restrictions and concrete curing plans (subject to change) is available on PennDOT's Chestnut Street Bridges website.

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