Collapsed Baltimore Bridge To Receive Urgent Federal Funds

By: Alex Trent | Published: Mar 29, 2024

The devastating collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge Tuesday is being met with an outpouring of support from government agencies like the US Department of Transportation.

This department worked quickly to approve immediate funding relief to the tune of $60 million to aid in emergency work that needs to be done on cleanup and reconstruction efforts.


The funds delivered by the US Department of Transportation are intended to be used as a “downpayment towards initial costs.” The road to recovery is estimated to be long, and this initial payment will be supplemented in the future as the project develops. 

A ship drifts towards the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland.

Source: Laura Hoover/Wikimedia

Maryland’s state government will deconstruct, repair, design, and eventually reconstruct the bridge which was an important route for motorists.


Important Bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was part of Interstate 695 and saw massive amounts of drivers cross it daily. Maryland’s Transport Authority estimated that over 34,000 people would cross that bridge every day.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore seen during sunrise.

Source: Ewillison/Wikimedia

Some predict the loss of the bridge will cause major traffic disruption through the area as Maryland transit authorities have put up detours that contain tunnel crossings, which some commercial vehicles can’t travel through.

Pete Buttigieg

US Transporation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke in a statement announcing the fund transfer to the state of Maryland announced by the Biden administration on Thursday.


Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“The federal emergency funds we’re releasing today will help Maryland begin urgent work, to be followed by further resources as recovery and rebuilding efforts progress,” Buttigieg said.

Shocking Images

Many Americans woke up on Tuesday morning to images and videos of the haunting bridge collapse that was hit by a cargo ship. Cars on the bridge were seen falling into the water as the ship hit a critical support column.

Pete Buttigieg, the current Secretary of Transportation of the Biden Administration, speaks into a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“No one will ever forget the shocking images of a container vessel striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing its collapse and the tragic loss of six people,” said Buttieg.

Within Hours

The statement released on the US Department of Transportation website remarked on how quickly they moved to get these funds released.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland seen at sunset.

Source: RCraig09/Wikimedia

“Within hours of receiving the request, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the immediate availability of $60 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for the Maryland Department of Transportation,” the statement said.


President Biden’s Comments

US President Joe Biden gave remarks in the wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge tragedy on Tuesday, saying federal resources were on the way.

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on the phone at his desk.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

“I told them we’re going to send all the federal resources they need as we respond to this emergency, and I mean all the federal resources.  And we’re going to rebuild that port together,” Biden said. 


Federal Government Paying the Cost

In his comments, Biden promised that the federal government would shoulder the costs of reconstruction, calling on members of Congress to get started on a proposal.

Joe Biden holds a pen while at his desk.

Source: The White House/Wikimedia

Biden said “It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect to — the Congress to support my effort. This is going to take some time.  And the people of Baltimore can count on us, though, to stick with them at every step of the way until the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”


Not Waiting for an Investigation

After Biden’s comments, he fielded questions from reporters. One question asked him why the federal government would be paying when there was a ship that seemed to be the one at fault.

President Joe Biden sitting at a desk signing a document.

The White House/Wikimedia Commons

In response, Biden said “That could be, but we’re not going to wait if that happened.  We’re going to pay for it to get the bridge rebuilt and open.”


Long Reconstruction

The reconstruction of the Baltimore bridge will not be a quick process that can be solved just by sending money. First, the painstaking cleanup process must begin and even afterward, some predict it could take a long time to rebuild it.

The Francis Scott Key bridge located in the state of Maryland.

Source: Larry Syverson/Wikimedia

Benjamin Shafer, a civil and systems engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, said it could possibly take a decade or longer to reconstruct


New Bridge Cost

Experts estimate that a new bridge to replace the one that collapsed could cost upwards of $400 million or more. Bridge construction is slowed down by several factors like government bureaucracy, intense safety standards, and approving permits for work to be done.

A man walks through his workplace while wearing a yellow construction hat.

Source: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

Companies are also given the opportunity to bid on contracts in a process that could take months.


Optimistic Timeline

While some are hoping for a quick fix to the bridge collapse, experts like Shafer are pouring cold water on optimistic hopes to fix it quickly in an environment of enthusiasm.

A group of construction workers standing together with yellow hats.

Source: Arron Choi/Unsplash

“The lead time on air conditioning equipment right now for a home renovation is like 16 months, right?” Schafer said. “So it’s like you’re telling me they’re going to build a whole bridge in two years? I want it to be true, but I think empirically it doesn’t feel right to me.”