The Unexpected Outcome: Why the Collapse Didn’t Have the Predicted Impact
Governor Josh Shapiro announced on Tuesday afternoon that the reopening of Interstate 95 in northeast Philadelphia has been rescheduled to take place this coming weekend. This announcement comes only three days after he initially estimated a two-week timeframe for the reopening, which would have placed it around the weekend of July 1-2.
Irrespective of the exact reopening date, it is evident that the north-south East Coast interstate highway will resume operations within a few weeks. This is remarkable considering the initial projections that suggested a potential closure for several months. The closure was prompted by an overpass collapse caused by a fuel truck accident and subsequent fire in the Tacony area of northeast Philadelphia.
The aftermath of the collapse, which posed a threat to the supply chain, has resulted in a slight spike in outbound tender rejection rates in Philadelphia. However, the overall impact appears to be less severe than initially anticipated.
Assessing the level of stress on the Northeast supply chain proves challenging due to the diverse array of trucks that crossed the overpass in the Tacony section of northeast Philadelphia, estimated to be around 14,000. Trucks traveling from Baltimore to New York along I-95 can easily switch to alternative routes such as Interstate 295 in New Jersey or the parallel New Jersey Turnpike.
However, for carriers operating LTL or box trucks with deliveries in the vicinity of the collapse, the options are limited. Their flexibility is significantly curtailed.
Bart De Muynck, the chief industry officer for supply chain software provider project44, acknowledged the significant and immediate impact on transportation and the local community. He noted the closure of the affected section of I-95, leading to disruptions for commuters, businesses, and freight movement. The diversion of traffic to alternate routes resulted in congestion, longer travel times, and increased frustration among motorists. Such disruptions can have a cascading effect, leading to financial losses and setbacks for industries operating in the region.
However, an anonymous official from an LTL carrier operating in the Northeast provided a different perspective. While acknowledging the closure of I-95 as a substantial disruption, he rated the level of impact on a scale of 1 to 10 as likely being around a 5.
Although the situation did not escalate into complete chaos, the executive mentioned that the closure of I-95 was one of the most significant disruptions he had witnessed during his tenure in freight transportation. He added that previous occurrences such as snowstorms and nor’easters had caused even greater disruptions to freight traffic.