Piles of dirt beneath I-95 in city raise concern

"Short-term" dirt storage under I-95 at Girard Avenue "has not compromised the safety of the highway," says PennDot.
"Short-term" dirt storage under I-95 at Girard Avenue "has not compromised the safety of the highway," says PennDot. (Office of the City Controller)
Posted: June 19, 2014

City Controller Alan Butkovitz raised questions Tuesday about construction dirt being piled under I-95 at Girard Avenue.

Butkovitz asked if the 25-foot-high mounds of soil could imperil I-95, as dirt piles under an I-495 bridge in Wilmington forced its emergency closure June 2.

The Wilmington bridge is to remain closed until at least Labor Day, as crews make repairs to stabilize the span, which was caused to tilt by the weight of dirt piles next to support pillars.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday the Philadelphia dirt piles were not massive enough to endanger the support pillars of I-95 or the roadway.

"The short-term duration of the dirt storage underneath I-95 has not compromised the safety of the highway," said Eugene Blaum, PennDot district spokesman.

Blaum said the dirt was placed under I-95 near Aramingo Avenue in late May for use as embankment material throughout the construction zone, including two rail bridges being built over Richmond Street.

The contractor began removing the dirt Thursday, and "the mounds will be gone by late next week," Blaum said.

Along with a letter Tuesday to PennDot district executive Lester Toaso, Butkovitz sent photos and a video showing a PennDot contractor dumping the soil on and next to the support pillars.

Construction plans for the I-95 project at Girard include "no indication that stockpiles were to be placed under I-95 directly on or near the support pillars," Butkovitz wrote. "The only stockpile location indicated in the original construction plans is located west of Richmond Street adjacent to Ramp A."

Butkovitz asked Toaso how long the dirt piles would remain on the site, if the dirt was to be used as fill for new ramps leading onto I-95, and if a study had been conducted before construction to "assure that the soil under I-95 around the support pillars can withstand the weight."

Blaum said PennDot would send Butkovitz a formal response soon.


>Inquirer.com

Watch a truck unloading dirt under a bridge

at I-95 and Girard Avenue at

www.inquirer.com/business


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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