Rebuilding Baltimore Bridge Could Take Years & Cost At Least $400 Million

Baltimore Bridge

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge has left the city in a state of shock and mourning. The disaster, which claimed the lives of six crew members, has also raised questions about the future of the bridge and the city’s infrastructure.

Experts estimate that rebuilding the Baltimore Bridge could take anywhere from 18 months to several years, with costs potentially exceeding $400 million. The timeline and cost are dependent on numerous factors, many of which are still unknown. These include the design of the new bridge and the speed at which government officials can navigate the bureaucracy of approving permits and awarding contracts.

Ben Schafer, an engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, suggests that a realistic timeframe for the project could be five to seven years. However, Sameh Badie, an engineering professor at George Washington University, is more optimistic, estimating that the project could be completed in as little as 18 months to two years.

The Key Bridge disaster has drawn comparisons to other bridge collapses, such as the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida, which was struck by a freighter in 1980. The new bridge took five years to build and was 19 months late and $20 million over budget.

Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, cites the case of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed in 2007 and was rebuilt in less than 14 months. Tymon expects various government agencies to work together to expedite the approval process for the Key Bridge project.

The source of funding for the new bridge is still uncertain. President Joe Biden has stated that the federal government will cover the cost, but this has yet to be confirmed. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who helped secure funding to rebuild the I-35W bridge, believes that obtaining the necessary funds for the Key Bridge could be more complicated due to the lower traffic volume compared to the I-35W bridge.

Rebuilding Baltimore Bridge

The cost of the project could range from $500 million to $1 billion, according to Badie. The design of the bridge will be a significant factor in the final cost. A suspension bridge like San Francisco’s Golden Gate would be more expensive, while a cable-stayed span would be less costly.

Hota GangaRao, a West Virginia University engineering professor, suggests that the project could cost as little as $400 million if the old bridge’s pier foundations are reused. However, this could change if designers decide to locate the new supports farther from the shipping channels to avoid another collision.

Norma Jean Mattei, an emeritus engineering professor at The University of New Orleans, agrees that replacing the Key Bridge will likely take several years. The process of designing the span, obtaining permits, hiring contractors, and then building the bridge is a lengthy one.

As Baltimore grapples with the aftermath of this tragedy, the city’s resilience and determination to rebuild are evident. The road to recovery may be long, but the spirit of the city remains unbroken.

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19 days ago

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