Who Is Going To Pay For The Baltimore Bridge Repair?

Photo by Irina Sitnikova on Unsplash

(PartiallyPolitics.com) – Maryland’s congressional delegation recently put forward a bill mandating that the federal government fully finance the repairs of the Baltimore bridge, which suffered a collapse following a collision with a ship last month. The bill, spearheaded by Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, received support from all eight Maryland representatives in the House: Democrats Kweisi Mfume, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Jamie Raskin, David Trone, Glenn Ivey, and Republican Andy Harris.

Senator Van Hollen emphasized that this bipartisan initiative aims to guarantee federal coverage of the entire cost for the bridge’s reconstruction. The goal is to expedite the rebuilding process safely and ensure that federal taxpayers benefit financially from any recoveries from those found liable for the damage.

The proposed legislation, named the Baltimore Bridge Response Invests and Delivers Global Economic Relief Act, seeks to adjust the federal cost-sharing rules under the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program. This adjustment would enable 100% federal funding for the rebuilding of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which is a departure from the typical funding model where the federal government covers 90% and the state covers 10%.

The urgency of this full funding model is backed by past precedents where the federal government has assumed total financial responsibility in similar emergency situations, as pointed out by Senator Cardin during a recent press briefing.

The need for such legislation became apparent after the cargo ship Dali, losing power while exiting Baltimore Harbor, struck the bridge, causing significant structural damage and leading to the deaths of six construction workers. The accident has severely disrupted the Baltimore port’s operations, necessitating extensive debris removal and traffic rerouting.

Senator Cardin described the collapse as both a human and economic catastrophe, affecting not just Maryland but the nation as a whole. He stressed the critical need to start repair works immediately while mourning the loss of life and the damage to a key economic asset.

Following the incident, President Biden visited the damaged site and projected that the Baltimore Port would be operational by the end of May. As recovery efforts continue, the estimated cost for a new bridge runs into the billions, reflecting the scale and importance of this infrastructure to the region.

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