If Buttigieg manages this crisis as well as the chemical disaster in Ohio, the region’s supply chain will be in a world of hurt for quite some time.
There has been another spectacular transportation incident under the watch of the Biden administration. A bridge on I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia collapsed this weekend after a tanker truck carrying gasoline burst into flames beneath it.
Within days, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg headed to the site and promised to help repair the East Coast’s main north-south highway. Another supply-chain crisis may be looming as a result of this accident.
Speaking near the site where an out-of-control tractor-trailer hauling gasoline flipped over on an Interstate 95 off-ramp and caught fire, Buttigieg said he expected that disruptions in trucking routes will put “upward pressure” on shipping costs along the East Coast.
Buttigieg toured the site and then, over the sounds of heavy machinery and demolition, told reporters that “every resource that is needed will be made available” to help Pennsylvania repair the bridge as quickly and safely as possible.
But the collapse is snarling traffic in Philadelphia as the summer travel season starts, upending hundreds of thousands of morning commutes, disrupting countless businesses and forcing trucking companies to find different routes.
Pennsylvania’s leaders joined a congressional delegation on a tour of the damage and assessed the impact’s magnitude on the region. Many are hoping for help from Senator John Fetterman.
“This is a critical roadway, not just for Northeast Philadelphia, not just for the Philadelphia region,” Rep. Brendan Boyle said, “but for the entire mid-Atlantic.”
Boyle and Sen. Bob Casey both say they’ve spoken with President Joe Biden about the collapse and the urgent need for federal funding.
“I know that I and Sen. [John] Fetterman and our entire congressional delegation will be focused on getting those dollars that are needed to make sure that I-95 is rebuilt,” Casey said.
The Federal Highway Administration has also been involved in the aftermath of the collapse. The FHWA’s focus is redirecting tractor-trailers transporting goods and food while trying to ward off economic issues along the way.
“It’s a vital freight issue,” FHWA administrator Shailen Bhatt said, “and supply chain is something we’ve been very focused on. There’s 160,000 vehicles that are using that; 8% is trucks.”
An interesting aspect of Buttigieg’s appearance is that he was pressed why he was so quick to respond to this incident, as opposed to taking weeks to assess East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment-chemical release disaster.
Buttigieg was just pressed on why it took him weeks to go to East Palestine despite visiting the I-95 collapse w/in days…
— Jennie Taer (@JennieSTaer) June 13, 2023
Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was pressed Tuesday by a reporter on why he visited the I-95 collapse site so quickly compared to his delay in visiting the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio.
It took Buttigieg about two weeks to go to East Palestine to the site of a chemical spill after a train derailment on Feb. 3 and only took a couple of days to travel to Philadelphia to see the I-95 collapse site. A tanker truck caught fire, leading to a partial collapse of the major interstate June 11.
“When I went, I decided to break from the precedent, the norm that generally transportation secretaries don’t go to active response sites. But, part of what I found was important, especially when you saw all of the politicization and misinformation that the people of East Palestine had to deal with, is that we’re just in a new world in terms of the importance of presence to help make sure everyone understands what’s happening, the coordination that’s happening, the teamwork that’s happening,” Buttigieg said.
If Buttigieg manages this crisis as well as the one in Ohio, the region’s supply chain will be in a world of hurt for quite some time.DONATE
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