Feature, Freight News, Sea

New Baltimore Bridge Could Cost $1.9 Billion

[ May 23, 2024   //   ]

Maryland’s Department of Transportation said May 2 that it estimates it will cost US$1.7 billion to US$1.9 billion to rebuild Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was struck by a container ship in March.
The state DOT said the estimate “is in line with similar projects of this scale and complexity.” Work to be completed by fall 2028, according to Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld.
The 47-year-old, four-lane steel bridge collapsed into the Baltimore channel after it was struck by the 9,971-TEU Dali, owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd., and chartered by A.P. Moller – Maersk. Six construction workers, who were working on the bridge at the time of the collision, were killed.
Salvors working with the Key Bridge Unified Command were working in early May to remove a large piece of the bridge lying on top of the Dali.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it aims to reopen the 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigational channel by the end of May, and working towards restoring port access to normal capacity. A temporary shipping channel continues to operate.
Similar projects in scale and complexity to replacing the Francis Scott Key Bridge include the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge in California, which opened in 2020 and cost about US$1.5 billion. The Key Bridge replacement, like the Long Beach bridge, will be designed as a “cable-stayed” span, in which the bridge deck is held up by cables connected to towers, according to the Washington Post.

Congress Considers Funding

Lawmakers in Congress are working on legislation that would waive the current requirement that the state pay 10 percent of the rebuilding costs and ensure there is enough money in a federal rebuilding fund.
Maryland said it will request proposals to rebuild the bridge by the end of May and plans an industry forum on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provided an initial US$60 million in emergency funds on May 2 to clear debris and start the process of rebuilding the bridge.
“We’re going to get Baltimore whatever it needs to rebuild, said Sen. Brian Schatz who chairs the subcommittee overseeing transportation funding.
The U.S. government would be repaid from insurance on the bridge, which could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Further, legal proceedings against companies that are found responsible for the collision could net additional funds, in what could be the costliest maritime loss in history.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said, “Any funds recovered from lawsuits for wrongdoing will be recouped by federal taxpayers.”
The owners of the Dali have declared “general average,” according to a spokesperson for vessel owner Grace Ocean Private Ltd. General average is a principle in maritime law in which all stakeholders proportionately share any losses resulting from the sacrifice of ship and/or cargo to save the whole in an emergency. That means the ship owner and everyone with cargo on board are responsible for covering the shipper’s loss, not just those for whom sacrificed their possessions.
General average only applies to boat and cargo, not the bridge and related aspects.


A salvage crew detonated a number of tiny explosives on the evening of May 13 to try to free the Dali, which was trapped under.
The dozens of explosions broke apart the truss of the bridge, which has fallen across the bow of the ship. Salvage workers previously sliced opening in steel beams to hold the explosives. Ultimately, it was considered the best way to dismantle the huge pieces and push the remnants away from the ship, the Washington Post reported.
Officials said they anticipated the Dali being moved via tugs to shore in the Port of Buffalo within two or three days.
The containers will stay on board for a time even after the vessel is docked. Needed ship repairs will be on hold until investigators clear any such work.

Dozens of explosions broke apart the truss of the Dali in the Port of Baltimore. PHOTO: AP
Salvors prepare for removal of a bridge section that lies across the bow of the Dali. PHOTO: Key Bridge Unified Command Photo; Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Hodges.