All Eyes on Rebuilding the Key Bridge

May 24, 2024
The optimistic timeline to rebuild and reopen the structure is four years

Eight weeks after a massive cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to collapse, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore praised the speedy recovery efforts and expressed relief that the Dali had been removed from the crash site.

At a press conference Tuesday, Moore said it was a "beautiful sight" when he didn't see the Dali in the middle of the channel, but he's pushing for the complete rebuilding of the Key Bridge.

The successful mission to transport the Dali away from the wreckage of the bridge represents a major step forward to fully reopen the Port of Baltimore. It’s expected to reopen by the end of the month.

“The mission’s not over. The work is not done," Moore said. "I will not be satisfied until I can look over this same sight and see the Francis Scott Key Bridge standing again."

Nearly two months have passed since the Dali lost power and crashed into one of the bridge’s supporting columns, killing six construction workers and halting most maritime traffic through the Port of Baltimore.

Now that the Dali is back at a marine terminal, the effort continues to remove portions of the Key Bridge that are still on the ship. A salvage team continued removing steel from the water soon after the Dali departed, Moore said. He said more than 10,000 tons of steel have already been removed.

The optimistic timeline to rebuild and reopen the Key Bridge is four years. Moore said it's an aggressive timeline that can be met with coordination and full financial support from Congress, including 100% cost sharing.

U.S. Senators and members of Congress from Maryland already introduced legislation that would "ensure the federal government supports 100% of the replacement of this critical bridge and its approaches in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County," Sen. Chris Van Hollen's office said in statement.

While the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) says they are moving at a rapid speed to rebuild the bridge, a bridge expert explained the factors considered before construction begins.

"When you think about having a structure inside of a community, working with a business, at the Harbor, you've got to figure out what is the best for getting functionality for the area," said Dr. Oscar Barton Jr., a professor and dean of Morgan State University's School of Engineering in a statement.

Barton said there are several factors to be considered during plans for rebuilding the bridge.

"There is a lot of intakes that have to be brought in—community engagement, the Commerce, the Harbor conversations, functionality, aesthetics, cost and then you talk about design," Barton said.

The MDTA recently held a virtual industry forum to discuss rebuilding the Key Bridge.

The original Key Bridge was a truss bridge, known to be strong and versatile. The new bridge could be another truss bridge but there are other possibilities.

A dual-span steel suspension bridge, like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, is one of those other options, as is a cable-stayed bridge.

"If we can get one of these cable-stayed bridges, I think the people in Dundalk will be like, 'I can't wait to drive over today,'" Barton said. "These are beautifully designed, artistic structures."

The MDTA says the new bridge's structure type has not yet been finalized.

"We are so sophisticated in bridge construction and tunnel construction, it's going to go up very quickly in terms of having the bridge design done, but the construction will probably take some time," Barton said.

Source: CBS News, NBC Washington 

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