The horrible, terrible, no-good drive up and down I-95 just got worse thanks to June 11’s bridge collapse in Northeast Philly. And, although the Aramingo-to-Cottman portion of the interstate should reopen in some fashion shockingly soon, traffic is unlikely to get better soon. According to city and state officials, the full rebuild could take months.
Take heed! We here at The Philadelphia Citizen are your partners in stress management, here for you with some short-term solutions for this longish-term problem.
First: Before you hop back behind the wheel, consider taking SEPTA instead. SEPTA has added extra rush-hour trains to its Trenton line and more capacity to its Fox Chase and West Trenton lines. (Although our beleaguered transit agency ain’t perfect, trains almost never get stuck in traffic jams.)
Speaking of traffic, Penndot has been doing a pretty bang-up job of keeping us up-to-date on ongoing detours. Briefly, though, if you’re heading south, you’re supposed to exit I-95 at Cottman and head down State Road to the I-95 South entrance. If you’re heading north, exit at Aramingo and head along Tacony Street to New State Road and the I-95 North entrance. Of course, some drivers are taking more creative routes, like heading to NJ and back into PA.
Meanwhile, here are some ways to make the ride less horrible — maybe even unexpectedly delightful? — while supporting local creatives and businesses.
(Pro tip: If a police barricade blocks you from your destination, just let the folks in blue know you’re heading to Sweet Lucy’s, or Little Susie’s, or Bonk’s Bar… and they’ll let you through.)
Grab breakfast and / or lunch
Mister Chubby’s, Holmesburg
8312 State Road
Open Monday–Friday from 4:15am to 3pm, Saturday from 4:15 to 11am
For 27-and-a-half years, this all-day breakfast spot has served amazing French toast, grilled cheesesteaks, fried Buffalo chicken sandwiches, BLTs, and bacon, egg and cheeses — and they’re not gonna stop for some interstate issue. Chubby’s offers free local delivery — from before dawn, on.
Gryphon Coffee Co., Kensington
100 W. Oxford Street
Open daily from 7am weekdays, 8am weekends
Because an egg sandwich and cortado (or kombucha, or a mocha) always make everything better. Also healing: Avocado toast, mushroom panini, a prosciutto and Brie sandwich, maybe a bacon and fig grilled cheese — all available to order online.
Little Susie’s Coffee & Pie, Port Richmond
2532 E. Lehigh Avenue (at Belgrade)
Open daily, 7am to 2pm
A sweet — blueberry, cherry, glazed cherry, apple — and / or a savory — chicken pot; mushroom and Swiss; and … pork roll, American cheese, spicy mustard! — scratch-made pie ($4.50-$6) will cure what ails ya. Drinks, too: La Colombe coffees, cold iced tea, lemonade, and, as the menu says, “wooder.” Order online.
Reanimator Coffee, Port Richmond
3118 Richmond Street
Open Monday–Friday from 7:30am to 2:30pm; Saturday–Sunday from 8am to 2:30pm
Sleek and serene, this spot just might entice you to have a seat and sip that single-origin roast before you clamber back into your hoopty and hit the busy road.
Pick up groceries
Riverwards Produce, Fishtown
2200 E. Norris Street (just off Frankford Ave.)
Open daily, from 8am to 8pm
Grab some fresh fruit to tide you over on the ride, some flowers to pretty it up or many other of the local treats as this fancy farm stand off the highway.
Have a sit-down meal — or takeout
Why fight traffic when you can cop a squat and dig into some locally-made dinner until it dies down?
Bonk’s Bar, Port Richmond
3467 Richmond Street
Open daily from 11am
Anchoring crab alley, this corner tavern is nothing fancy, but it so does the trick. On the menu: steamed in-season crabs, fried pickles, other classic bar fare, relatively refined beers (plus the kind you serve in buckets), and Friday night karaoke. Yeah, boyee!
Byrne’s Tavern, Port Richmond
3301 Richmond Street (at Allegheny)
Open daily from 11am
Founded in 1978 and still feeling delightfully so, this workaday pub is known for its crabs, chicken wings, potato logs, potato pierogi and cold beer. Bonus: Parking.
Gaul & Co. Malt House, Port Richmond
2619 E. Indiana Avenue
Open from 11am weekdays; 9am weekends
The home of the Wit-or-Witowski kielbasa cheesesteak is not at all the worst place to be stuck during happy hour time. Although they’re open for lunch — $6 hot roast beef, burger, chicken parm, other sandwich specials on weekdays! — you’ll probably want to go for an early supper, when oysters are buck-a-shuck and craft beers — which you may have exactly one of, driver — are on special.
Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, Holmesburg
7500 Street Road
Daily from 11am to 8pm (until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays)
Their street might be closed, but Sweet Lucy’s is open — and instruct you to call them at (215) 333-9663 for help getting there. The rustic, hickory-smoked, melt-in-yo-mouth pulled pork or brisket alone is worth the effort. Note: Treat yourself to the bread pudding, but take it easy on the sweet tea.
Check out these local podcasts
- Shameless plug for The Philadelphia Citizen’s How to Really Run a City. Two legendary former mayors — Philly’s Michael Nutter and Atlanta’s Kasim Reed — join Citizen Co-founder Larry Platt and urban problem-solvers from around the country for the show Bloomberg named to its list of “10 city-related podcasts to add to your playlist.”
- No time like the present to jump in to Dan Drago’s 25 O’Clock, the long-running Philly music podcast. Start with Episode #277, Summer ’23 music playlist.
- Everyone’s favorite Eagle and his … less loved, real-life, Super Bowl-winning brother (what’s his name again?) are endlessly entertaining in their New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce.
- Your detour may take you past some amazing street art you’ve not noticed before. Jump all in with Conrad Benner’s popular StreetsDept podcast for interviews with local artists.
Listen to your local summer read
- You Were Always Mine‘s Jo Piazza, Philly-based author and podcaster (she created The Citizen’s Philly Under Fire) and Christine Pride have co-authored their second novel, which the Associated Press says “tee[s] up the possibility for raw and thought-provoking discussions that go deep.”
- My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes — co-author of In the Heights — was the 2022 One Book, One Philadelphia read. If you missed it then, or even if you read it with your eyes, listening to the author tell her melodic story of growing up Puerto Rican in Philadelphia is a must.
- Sink, Joseph Earl Thomas’s fictionalized memoir of his tough coming of age in North Philadelphia, is also narrated by the author, which makes the story come alive as you drive through Philadelphia.
Rock out, Philly-style
- The Best of Philadelphia International Records, the classics from Gamble & Huff, straight from Sigma Sound Studios … From Love Train to Me and Mrs. Jones, there ain’t no stopping you now.
- Questlove’s Top 50 Hip Hop Tracks. The Roots leader pulls out A Tribe Called Quest, Biz Markie, Grandmaster Flash, Naughty by Nature. If you don’t know these tracks already, you oughta.
- Listen Local Philadelphia. You’ve heard Jill Scott and maybe even Amos Lee. But Palmas, Bri Steves, St. Pete Holland? Them, you gotta hear.
Read these before you get in the car. Practice when you feel road rage coming on.
- Breathing exercises you can do anywhere — even along Roosevelt Boulevard.
- Car yoga (really, this exists)
Good luck and godspeed, Citizens.
Know a biz near the I-95 collapse that could use a boost? Let us know!