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Federal Aid Swiftly Released for Rebuilding Francis Scott Key Bridge After Tragic Collision



In a rapid response to the devastating collision between a cargo container ship and the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the immediate release of $60 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to the Maryland Department of Transportation.

The collision resulted in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, claiming the lives of six individuals, and causing substantial disruption to regional and national transportation networks. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he and others in the Biden-Harris administration understand that they must act with urgency, and he emphasized the federal government’s commitment to assisting Maryland in the bridge’s reconstruction.

“The federal emergency funds we’re releasing today will help Maryland begin urgent work, with additional resources coming as recovery and rebuilding efforts progress,” Buttigieg stated. 

He reiterated President Joe Biden’s assurance that the federal government would spare no effort in supporting the bridge’s rebuilding and restoring operations at the Port of Baltimore.

FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt echoed Secretary Buttigieg’s sentiments, explaining to reporters and others the pivotal role of the Emergency Relief funds in facilitating initial repair efforts. Additionally, FHWA officials said the agency would provide technical assistance, conduct site assessments, and oversee emergency contracts to expedite the reconstruction process.

The closure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge has already had far-reaching implications, disrupting shipping traffic to the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, and impeding vital transportation corridors along the East Coast. FHWA officials said they will continue to collaborate closely with federal, state, and local partners to mitigate supply chain disruptions and manage traffic while prioritizing the safe reopening of the port.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s declaration of a state of emergency helped to enable FHWA to approve MDOT’s emergency relief funding application promptly. Officials have allocated the funds towards debris removal, demolition, detours, emergency repairs, and the design and reconstruction of the affected infrastructure.

Biden also reaffirmed the federal government’s unwavering support for Baltimore. “And to the people of Baltimore, I want to say: We’re with you,” the president declared. “We’re going to stay with you as long as it takes. And like the governor said, you’re Maryland tough, you’re Baltimore strong, and we’re going to get through this together. And I promise: We’re not leaving. It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect to — the Congress to support my effort.” 

Biden said the tragedy called for a comprehensive response and demanded that Congress endorse federal assistance efforts.

Federal officials said FHWA’s Emergency Relief program aligns with broader initiatives to enhance infrastructure resilience in the face of future challenges.  

“The Port of Baltimore is one of the nation’s largest shipping hubs.  And I’ve been there a number of times as a senator and as a vice president,” Biden remarked. “It handled a record amount of cargo last year.  It’s also the top port in America for both imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks.

“Around 850,000 vehicles go through that port every single year, and we’re going to get it up and running again as soon as possible. Fifteen thousand jobs depend on that port.  And we’re going to do everything we can to protect those jobs and help those workers.”

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