Federal Response Underway for Rebuild of Collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge

The catastrophic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26th has prompted a comprehensive response from federal, state, and local authorities. With President Biden officially requesting Congressional funding, the efforts to investigate the accident’s cause, conduct cleanup operations, and rebuild the vital infrastructure link are now fully mobilized.

At a pivotal House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on Wednesday, top officials from agencies like the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Transportation, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) provided updates on the wide-ranging activities underway.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy testified that an unprecedented 12 investigators remain on the ship nearly two months later to determine why it lost power and struck the bridge’s critical support. The agency already found the ship experienced four engine failures in the 10 hours preceding the collision.

Homendy stressed severe staffing shortages, noting the NTSB’s marine safety office alone needs five more investigators. “The fact is, we need over 50 more investigators today to be fully staffed,” she told lawmakers.

Leaders from other agencies detailed the massive clean-up scope, with the Army Corps of Engineers pulling over 200 tons of debris from Baltimore’s port after mobilizing over 1,000 personnel – a level unseen in 50 years.

The Federal Highway Administration has released $60 million in initial disaster funds, but its administrator Shalien Bhatt requested Congress fully fund a new $1.9 billion bridge built to modern standards, calling it “a monumental task” unlike any he’s encountered.

As investigations continue into the companies operating the vessel, officials aim to have the Patapsco River channel clear for the start of reconstruction expected to take up to four years.

With Maryland’s congressional delegation closely tracking progress, the hearing underscored the Herculean efforts required to replace the vital Baltimore transportation artery that connected over 85,000 vehicles daily before its shocking failure.

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