Maryland leaders urge Congress for aid approval as repairs progress

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TL/DR –

The recovery effort to clear the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed in Maryland, is complex and risky, according to officials. Maryland leaders are urging Congress to quickly advance aid money to help reopen the consequential shipping channel at the Port of Baltimore. While a cargo ship that crashed into the bridge remains stuck, the state could request over $600 million for bridge recovery and need more than $1 billion to build a new bridge.


Maryland Officials Urge Congress for Aid Following Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

Continued efforts to untangle and remove the wreckage of the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge were underway on Sunday, with Maryland leaders urging Congress for prompt advance aid. The financial assistance is crucial to reopening the Port of Baltimore’s vital shipping channel, which was impacted due to the bridge collapse.

Cleanup teams faced considerable challenges due to the complexity of the salvage operation. Demolition crews, Army Corps of Engineers, and dive teams worked together to safely remove sections of the 185-foot high structure and the cargo ship known as the Dali, which had struck the bridge. The process was painstaking, with crews contending with murky, debris-filled waters and hazardous conditions.

Pressure on Congress to allocate relief funds intensified as Maryland leaders highlighted the national impact of the bridge’s closure. Maryland Governor Wes Moore emphasized that the need for aid was not exclusive to Maryland, but critical for several industries and businesses nationwide. President Biden pledged to pay for all bridge replacement costs and to reopen the port.

Initial relief funds of $60 million have been received from the Federal Highway Administration. However, estimates suggest that Maryland might request over $600 million for Key Bridge recovery and more than $1 billion for a new bridge, as reported by The Washington Post. The limited funds available in the Transportation Department’s relief fund could necessitate a Congressional vote to replenish it by year-end.

Although House Republicans have expressed concern over government spending, Maryland Democrats have urged them to support the aid bill for Baltimore. The Democrats argue that the aid is in their constituents’ best interests, addressing essential supplies for the American economy that pass through the port.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott stated that partisanship should not hinder the funding process for the bridge’s recovery and the reopening of the port. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg detailed the complex path forward in an interview, emphasizing the expertise required to safely remove the wreckage.

The recovery process is dependent on conditions, including visibility, and requires careful assessment after each section is removed. Despite the challenges, the Army Corps remains committed to the painstaking task, including recovering the bodies of workers still missing following the collapse.

Four workers remain unaccounted for since the bridge collapse, and their families await closure. The Army Corps is dedicated to retrieving their remains, ensuring the recovery process is sensitive to their plight.

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