Emergency Bridge Replacement Receives ACEC/PA’s Highest Honor

LANCASTER, PA – The American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA) has awarded the I-95 Bridge Collapse Emergency Repairs project with the 2024 Grand Conceptor Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence—the highest honor given by the organization. This award recognizes the project for demonstrating a high degree of achievement, value and innovation.

On June 11, 2023, a tanker truck carrying gasoline lost control on an I-95 off-ramp in Philadelphia, resulting in a devastating fire that engulfed the northbound mainline bridge of I-95. The steel superstructure quickly collapsed and the southbound bridge was compromised, leaving the corridor severed.

Within hours, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) contacted Benesch. Together with contractor Buckley, they began to discuss a solution.

“Benesch originally served as the prime consultant on the interstate reconstruction contract that included the original bridge design approximately ten years ago, led by Benesch Project Manager Sandi Yeakley, so we were uniquely prepared to respond to this emergency situation,” explained Benesch’s Joseph Sirignano, PE, VMA. “We were able to immediately access the original plans for the bridge and bridge site, which was a huge help in determining a solution for building a temporary replacement which could support a quick reopening of the interstate.”

Benesch worked alongside PennDOT and the contractor to develop a plan to restore traffic along the corridor which accommodates more than 160,000 vehicles each day. Just 12 days after the bridge’s collapse, a temporary roadway was constructed and I-95 reopened to three lanes of traffic in each direction.

“This was truly a team effort on all fronts,” shared Sirignano. “35 Benesch staff were engaged in our response, working alongside the contractor and PennDOT to ensure the solution was safe and achievable within such a tight time frame. We were performing under immense pressure—but Benesch never backs away from a challenge.”

Benesch continues to provide design services in a design-build capacity for the structure’s permanent replacement.

The 2024 Grand Conceptor Diamond Award was presented to Benesch during the ACEC/PA gala on January 25. During his acceptance speech, Sirignano acknowledged the effort, commitment and unity of all parties involved, including PennDOT and contractor team members, stating this project should serve as the collaboration template for future transportation projects.

The Grand Conceptor award makes the I-95 project eligible to compete at the National ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony later this year.

Read more about the I-95 emergency repair project here.