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U.S. Transportation chief pledges support for Philadelphia after highway collapse


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday pledged federal support for rebuilding a major U.S. highway after a portion collapsed in Philadelphia over the weekend, snarling traffic and upending commutes.

Buttigieg toured the scene and met with Pennsylvania officials. He said the federal government plans to provide emergency funding to help with the rebuilding but did not offer a timeline on restoring the highway that is used by about 160,000 vehicles a day.

“Every resource that is needed will be made available,” Buttigieg said at a press conference.

Human remains were recovered from the scene of the wreckage on Monday after an overpass of I-95 fell when a tanker truck hauling gasoline ignited on Sunday, shutting down the major East Coast transportation artery.

Buttigieg met with Philadelphia’s mayor and other state and local officials and discussed “efforts to rebuild I-95 safely and efficiently, while limiting interim impacts to commuters and our supply chains,” the U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement.

The head of the Federal Highway Administration was at the site on Monday as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigates.

Officials have said that it could take several months to rebuild the collapsed portion of the north-south highway, which runs from Miami to the Canadian border in Maine.

Excavation teams worked to clear the site on Monday, with authorities eyeing Tuesday as a test of traffic workarounds.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Porter)

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