On Tuesday, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg faced questions from a reporter regarding the timing of his visit to the I-95 collapse site compared to the delay in his visit to the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio.
Buttigieg faced criticism for taking approximately two weeks to visit the site of a chemical spill caused by a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3. In contrast, he visited the I-95 collapse site in Philadelphia just a few days after a tanker truck fire resulted in a partial collapse of the major interstate on June 11.
Buttigieg made a statement saying, “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.”
He continued, “And so the same way that I value the ongoing conversation that I have with people that I spend time with on the ground in East Palestine, I value the opportunity to be both on the ground and coordinating over the phone with everybody who’s involved in the response here.”
The incident unfolded as a result of a tanker truck catching fire beneath an overpass, leading to a section of the highway collapsing onto the vehicle.
I-95 truck explosion which led to the collapse.
This clears everything up…
— Next Philly Mayor 🏆 (@nextphlmayor) June 13, 2023
Authorities have confirmed that one fatality occurred as a result of the incident. The intense fire led to the collapse of the northbound lanes of I-95, while the southbound lanes were also affected due to the high temperatures generated by the fire.
The process of replacing the damaged and destroyed section of I-95 is anticipated to take several weeks, if not longer.
Pennsylvania’s transportation secretary, Michael Carroll, has stated that a replacement plan for the approximately 100-foot-long section of the highway is set to be released on Wednesday.
Buttigieg has been subjected to scrutiny for his handling of various issues, including the East Palestine chemical spill, the grounding of domestic flights by the FAA and significant supply chain delays.
In Washington, D.C., weeks after the train derailment in East Palestine, a reporter confronted Buttigieg about his absence from the site. At the time, Buttigieg stated that he was taking “personal time” and was unable to deliver a message to the affected residents in the area.