On June 11, 2023, a portion of the I-95 collapsed after a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline crashed and caught fire under an overpass. The driver, who reportedly lost control of the truck on an off-ramp, died in the blaze. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, state and local officials held a press conference and committed to fixing the broken section of the road as quickly as possible. Governor Shapiro also proclaimed a disaster emergency, immediately opening up $7 million in state funding for repairing I-95 and effectively eliminating studies, reviews, and other processes that slow infrastructure projects – often to a glacial pace. By June 23, 2023, temporary lanes for the damaged section of I-95 were opened, well ahead of the timeline that was originally projected. How was Philadelphia able to pull it off? Simply put, no red tape.
Over the past half-century, federal, state, and local government has regularly prioritized community input and litigation avoidance over the goal of getting construction projects done quickly. As a result, projects undergo complex reviews, procedures, permitting processes, and public comment periods that add months, if not years, to the process. The I-95 temporary repair project did not have to undergo such a process. Nevertheless, while building the permanent bridge and roadway will take months, the opening of the temporary six-lane roadway, put in place atop 2000 tons of crushed glass, is an impressive feat and win for Governor Shapiro. Indeed, as reported in the New York Times, a spokesman for Governor Shapiro said the Governor was determined to reopen the highway as fast as possible to show that government can be responsive and effective. “This is a chance to bring people together and show that government can be a productive force for good,” the press secretary, Manuel Bonder, said. What remains to be seen is whether that cooperative spirit will continue as workers turn to the permanent construction or will it be back to business as usual where the “citizen voice” is heard but slows the construction process.
ABOUT WARREN KOSHOFER
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Warren A. Koshofer is a principal in the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Environmental, and Insurance practice groups. Mr. Koshofer focuses his practice on business, commercial, environmental, insurance, intra-company, real estate, and toxic tort construction-related litigation matters, as well as on due diligence, indemnification, and risk management relating to commercial or industrial real estate transactions or company mergers and acquisitions involving such real estate assets and/ or potential environmental liabilities. He represents clients at the state, federal, trial, and appellate court levels, including Fortune 100 companies, partnerships, and high-profile individuals. He also handles matters before administrative law courts, regulatory agencies, and alternative dispute resolution forums nationwide. Mr. Koshofer has consistently been recognized by Martindale Hubbell as an AV (preeminent) peer-rated attorney and by Super Lawyers and Who’s Who in Law.