Shapiro honors 11 PennDOT workers for I-95 response

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Gov. Josh Shapiro recently honored 56 state employees with the Governor’s Awards for Excellence. Employees from a dozen different state agencies were feted for their essential contributions to the state for 2023.

First among those 56 honorees were 11 employees at District 6 of the state Department of Transportation, Philadelphia’s regional office. The honors stemmed from the response to the June 11, 2023 tractor-trailer fire that destroyed the bridge carrying Interstate 95 at Cottman Avenue.

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Beginning in the overnight hours of the collapse in Northeast Philadelphia, PennDOT District 6 went into action. Under the auspices of Shapiro’s Declaration of Disaster Emergency, the team mobilized contractors to restore traffic flow on the East Coast’s primary traffic artery. The collapsed bridge was demolished while a temporary roadway was built using recycled construction materials.

PennDOT District 6 coordinated an effort from PennDOT, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Biden administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Building Trades.

The damaged roadway was removed and the temporary roadway was in place in just 12 days, far faster than even the most optimistic projections.

“I’m incredibly proud that PennDOT and the District 6 team have been recognized with this award for their heroic efforts in getting I-95 reopened,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said. “These folks worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances and have demonstrated the creativity and innovative spirit of PennDOT.”

The 11 honorees are Din Abazi, David Adams, Louis Belmonte, Charles Davies, Andrew Firment, Daniel Gleason, Daniel Graham, Francis Hanney, Krys Johnson, Brad Rudolph and Harold Windisch.

Under the eye of a live round-the-clock video web feed, viewers from across the planet could follow the progress of the subsequent rebuild of the area. Dignitaries such as President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, White House Senior Advisor Mitch Landrieu and Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt visited.

Traffic was restored completely on a permanently rebuilt bridge section on May 24, 2024, just 347 days after the collapse. The reopening exceeded expectations.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence are designed to recognize exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency.

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