Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore bridge collapse

A container ship rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as night falls on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Sparrows Point, Maryland, USA. The ship rammed into the major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing it to collapse in a matter of seconds and creating a terrifying scene as several vehicles plunged into the chilly river below. AP/PTI

Baltimore bridge collapse: How much does it cost to rebuild Key Bridge?

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced the immediate availability of $60 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds.

A bridge in Baltimore, USA collapsed on Tuesday (March 26) after a cargo ship stuck it resulting in the death of six workers who were working on the bridge.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed after ‘Dali’ ship struck a pylon and the US authorities and experts are now talking about how much it would cost to rebuild the bridge and the time needed.

Also read: 'Racist' cartoon on Baltimore bridge collapse

Dali ship had an all-Indian crew of 22 members.

What experts said

Rebuilding the bridge could take anywhere from 18 months to several years, experts said, while the cost could be at least $400 million – or more than twice that, according to a report in Associated Press (AP).

Among the various factors taken into account are the design of the new bridge, approving the costs by the authorities, and awarding the contracts.

“Realistically, the project could take five to seven years,” Ben Schafer, an engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, was quoted as saying in the report.

“The lead time on air conditioning equipment right now for a home renovation is like 16 months, right?" Schafer said. He continued: “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.”

Sameh Badie, an engineering professor at George Washington University, said the project could take as little as 18 months to two years.

Badie said the cost could be between $500 million and $1 billion, with the largest variable being the design.

Hota GangaRao, a West Virginia University engineering professor, said the project could cost as little as $400 million. But that is only if the old bridge’s pier foundations are used; designers may want to locate the new supports farther away from the shipping channels to avoid another collision.

$60 million released

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on Thursday announced the immediate availability of $60 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for the Maryland Department of Transportation to rebuild the bridge.

These funds serve as a down payment toward initial costs, and additional Emergency Relief programme funding will be made available as work continues, it said.

The funds will be used for eligible costs associated with debris removal, demolition, detours, emergency repairs, and design and reconstruction.

“We are supporting President Biden’s whole-of-government response to this tragic incident and the federal government is committed to providing all necessary resources to rebuild the bridge,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt.

“The Emergency Relief funding announced today provides an initial down payment of funds to help Maryland manage ongoing disruptions to traffic, supply chains, and daily life, and is the first step in our joint efforts to reconstruct the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” Bhatt added.

Reuters news agency reported that to replace the bridge, Congress would need to approve funding.

Initial estimates put the cost of rebuilding the bridge at $600 million, according to economic analysis company IMPLAN, the report added.

US federal officials have told Maryland lawmakers the final cost of rebuilding the bridge could soar to at least $2 billion, Roll Call reported, citing a source familiar with the discussions.

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