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Why Did Baltimore Bridge In US Collapse And How Much Will It Cost To Fix?

Posted in Featured, World

Published on March 29, 2024 with No Comments

Bridges such as the one in Baltimore are classified as “fracture critical” by the federal government – meaning that if one portion of the bridge collapses, the rest of the structure falls. Divers recovered the remains of two of the six missing workers more than a day after a cargo ship smashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. The bodies of two men were found in a red pickup truck submerged in the icy waters of the Patapsco River. Rescuers pulled two workers from the water alive on Tuesday, and one was hospitalized.
Six workers on the bridge are presumed dead. The two men whose bodies were recovered on Wednesday were identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, originally from Mexico, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of nearby Dundalk, originally from Guatemala.

The workers came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to a press conference.

Authorities have suspended efforts to recover bodies in the 50-foot-deep (15 m) waters surrounding the twisted ruins due to treacherous conditions.

At the time of the crash, a construction crew was fixing potholes on the bridge and eight people fell 185 feet (56 m) into the river where water temperatures were 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). Two workers were rescued, one unharmed and one injured.

Authorities saved lives by stopping vehicles from using the bridge after the ship sent out a mayday call.

The ship also dropped its anchors to slow down, buying time to clear the bridge.
Shortly after 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) on Tuesday, a container ship named the Dali was sailing down the Patapsco River on its way to Sri Lanka. At 1:24 a.m., it suffered a total power failure and all its lights went out.

Three minutes later, at 1:27 a.m., the container ship struck a pylon of the bridge, crumpling almost the entire structure into the water.

Less than a minute before impact, a first responder on emergency radio responded to the crew’s mayday call by sending officers to halt traffic onto the bridge.

Without their fast work, the scale of the disaster may have been far greater, even during the early morning hours when vehicular traffic is relatively light.

Tuesday’s disaster may be the worst U.S. bridge collapse since 2007, when a design error caused the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis to plunge into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.
Bridges such as the one in Baltimore are classified as “fracture critical” by the federal government – meaning that if one portion of the bridge collapses, the rest of the structure falls. There are more than 16,800 such spans in the U.S., according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said the bridge lacked structural engineering redundancies common to newer spans, making it more vulnerable to catastrophic collapse.

The Key Bridge opened in 1977 – three years before a similar vessel collision of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Florida, killed 35 people, and prompted bridge designers to implement better protections for foundation piers
President Joe Biden promised to visit Baltimore soon and said he wanted the federal government to pay to rebuild the bridge.

The Transportation Department on Thursday awarded $60 million in “quick release” emergency relief funds to aid in clearing debris and begin the process of rebuilding. To replace the bridge, Congress would need to approve funding. After the bridge collapse in 2007 in Minnesota, Congress allocated $250 million.

Initial estimates put the cost of rebuilding the bridge at $600 million, according to economic analysis company IMPLAN.

Federal officials have told Maryland lawmakers the final cost of rebuilding the bridge could soar to at least $2 billion, Roll Call reported, citing a source familiar with the discussions.

Insurers could face billions of dollars in claims, analysts said, with one putting the cost at as much as $4 billion, which would make the tragedy a record shipping insurance loss.

Rebuilding could be a lengthy process and will depend on whether any of the remaining structure can be salvaged. It took five years to construct the original bridge from 1972-1977.

The closure of the port for just one month would cost Maryland $28 million in lost business, according to IMPLAN.

The Dali was leaving Baltimore en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with 21 crew and two pilots on board.

The ship measures 948 feet (289 m) – as long as three football fields. It was stacked high with containers but was capable of carrying twice as much cargo. Safety investigators recovered the ship’s black box, which can give them the vessel’s position, speed, heading, radar, bridge audio, and radio communications as well as alarms.

The same ship was involved in an incident in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016, when it hit a quay as it tried to exit the North Sea container terminal.

A later inspection in June 2023 carried out in San Antonio, Chile, found the vessel had “propulsion and auxiliary machinery” deficiencies, according to data on the public Equasis website, which provides information on ships.

The registered owner of the Singapore-flagged ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd, LSEG data show. Synergy Marine Group managed the ship, and Maersk chartered the vessel.

 

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