Baltimore Bridge Reconstruction – Who Will Pay?

Baltimore Bridge Reconstruction

In the early hours of March 26, the Sri Lanka-bound cargo vessel ‘Dali’ reported a power loss, altering its course towards the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore City, Maryland. The Singapore-flagged vessel collided with a bridge pillar over the Patapsco River, causing the historic 2-mile bridge to collapse and six people to fall into the river.

The ship’s ‘black box’ voyage data recorder (VDR) revealed that a mayday call was issued moments before the disaster. The 22-member all-Indian crew of the Dali were unharmed, but six construction workers on the bridge were presumed dead after the search and rescue operation shifted to a recovery effort.

US President Joe Biden has expressed his desire for the federal government to fund the bridge’s reconstruction. On March 28, the Transportation Department approved $60 million in ‘quick release’ emergency relief funds for debris clearance and initial rebuilding efforts.

However, the total cost of replacing the bridge is estimated to be around $600 million, according to economic analysis company IMPLAN. Federal officials have warned Maryland lawmakers that the final cost could rise to at least $2 billion. Congress would need to approve this funding.

Analysts predict that insurers could face losses of around $4 billion, potentially making this incident a record shipping insurance loss. The closure of the port for just one month could cost Maryland $28 million in lost business, as per IMPLAN.

So far, divers have recovered the remains of two of the six missing workers. The bodies of Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes (35) and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera (26) were found in a submerged red pickup truck in the Patapsco River. Two other workers were rescued alive, with one being hospitalized.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, spanning 1.6 miles across the Patapsco River, holds significant historical relevance. It was at this site in 1814 that Francis Scott Key penned the US national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

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