Reports: Baltimore Bridge Rebuild to Cost Between $400 Million and Billions of Dollars

Efforts to build a bridge where the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, stood until Tuesday are estimated to cost anywhere from $400 million to several billion dollars, according to reports.

Punchbowl News reports — citing sources from the Biden administration, Capitol Hill, and Annapolis — that the undertaking to replace the bridge, which collapsed after a cargo ship named Dali crashed into one of its pier foundations, will cost “several billion dollars.”

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BCFD via Storyful, Jayme Krause via Storyful

“Several sources estimated that the administration is going to ask Congress for more than $1 billion to respond to the crisis. Again, this assessment is still in the earliest stages and nothing has been decided upon yet,” noted Punchbowl News founder Jake Sherman and co-founder John Bresnahan.

With the port shutdown, Sherman and Bresnahan noted that President Joe Biden could include in his request aid for the roughly 8,000 people who work at the port, which is non-operational due to bridge debris and the remnants of the Dali blocking port access.

“Sources told us that the payroll for the roughly 8,000 workers at the port is more than $2 million per day. If the port is shuttered for several months, as is likely, that could be upwards of $100 million in economic losses,” Sherman and Bresnahan added.

It is unclear if the “several billion dollars” estimate accounts for merely the bridge rebuild and aid for workers or if it covers funds for clean-up efforts as well.

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NTSB via Storyful

The Associated Press interviewed several engineering professors who gave differing estimates of the cost and time it would take to build a new bridge.

West Virginia University Professor Hota GangaRao told the Associated Press that the bridge could cost as low as $400 million if it is built on the foundational supports of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

“[D]esigners may want to locate the new supports farther away from the shipping channels to avoid another collision,” the Associated Press noted.

George Washington University Professor Sameh Badie projected that a new bridge could cost from $500 million to $1 billion, mainly depending on its design. Badie also estimated that construction could be completed in as little as a year and a half to two years.

He did note that a hurried reconstruction effort will drive up costs on the project.

“A project like this is going to be expedited, so everything is going to cost a lot more,” Badie said.

Johns Hopkins Univerity Engineering Professor Ben Schafer offered a different prognosis, saying a new span may not be operational for five to seven years.

“The lead time on air conditioning equipment right now for a home renovation is like 16 months, right?” Schafer said. “So it’s like you’re telling me they’re going to build a whole bridge in two years? I want it to be true, but I think empirically it doesn’t feel right to me.”

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