Funding the Key Bridge Collapse Recovery Efforts

March 28, 2024
Process is likely to be long and require multiple sources

The path to rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge and reopening the Port of Baltimore will require work from multiple government agencies and significant federal funding.

President Joe Biden pledged the full support of the federal government in response to Tuesday’s collapse.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said in a statement. “[The federal government] will pay the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement there are no official estimates for how much repairing the bridge would cost.

“We are committed to delivering every federal resource needed to help Maryland get back to normal, and we’re going to work with them every step of the way to rebuild this bridge. It is not going to be simple,” he said. “Rebuilding will not be quick or easy or cheap, but we will get it done.”

However, according to initial reports on Axios, the bridge could cost hundreds of millions to rebuild.

Even without a named amount for rebuilding, there are several routes the federal government can take to address what’s likely to be a lengthy and expensive rebuilding process.

The most likely source of immediate funding for repairs to the bridge is the Federal Highway Administration Emergency fund, according to CNN.

Andy Winkler, an expert in disaster and infrastructure issues at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said federal and state officials are assessing damage and the cost to rebuild as quickly as possible. One consideration in the process is whether the remaining pieces of the bridge can be salvaged or need to be rebuilt.

There is also funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that could be used to rebuild the bridge.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that funding from the law, as well as anticipated insurance payments, will help with the rebuild.

“We have money from the bipartisan infrastructure law that could potentially be helpful. My expectation would be that, ultimately, there will be insurance payments in part to cover this. But we don’t want to allow worrying about where the financing is coming to hold up reconstruction,” she said in a statement.

Winkler said it will also be key to watch whether and how soon the president declares a federal emergency, which can help relax certain federal regulations and contracting rules to expedite the process.

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Source: CNN, Axios D.C.

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