Biden vows to reopen Baltimore port, rebuild collapsed Key Bridge

Biden vows to reopen Baltimore port, rebuild collapsed Key Bridge

President Biden vowed Tuesday to rebuild Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge after it collapsed into the water when a cargo ship rammed into it, echoing what some Maryland officials said earlier but adding that he expects the federal government to foot the bill.

“It’s my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect the Congress to support my effort,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “This is going to take some time, but the people of Baltimore can count on us though to stick with them at every step of the way until the port is reopen and the bridge is rebuilt.”

He said he spoke with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Tuesday morning, as well as Maryland officials including its congressional delegation and two U.S. senators. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to the Baltimore site.

Biden called the bridge “one of the most important elements for the economy in the northeast and the quality of life.”

“As I told Governor Moore, I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said.

The president said he plans to go to the site of the collapse in Baltimore “as quickly as” he can. When asked if the company behind the cargo ship that rammed into the bridge should be held responsible financially, Biden responded, “that could be but we’re not going to wait for that to happen.”

“We’re going to pay for it to get the bridge rebuilt and open,” Biden said.

The bridge, on Interstate 695, was hit around 1:30 a.m. by cargo ship Dali, which was headed to Sri Lanka, causing nearly the entire steel structure to fall into the water.

The president highlighted that the Port of Baltimore is one of the nation’s largest shipping hubs and that it handled a record amount of cargo last year. He added that 850,000 vehicles go through the port every single year, 15,000 jobs depend on the port, and 30,000 vehicles cross the bridge on a daily basis.

He also said that authorities estimated eight people were unaccounted for but two people have been rescued — one person without injury and one person in critical condition.

Biden added that local authorities closed the bridge to traffic before it was struck and that information so far indicates the crash was an accident without intentional act.

“I’ve been over many, many times, commuting from the state of Delaware either by train or by car,” he said.

A state of emergency is in place for Maryland and Baltimore. Moore, earlier Tuesday, said at a news conference that the ship’s distress call saved lives, because bridge traffic was brought to a halt.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) responded to Biden’s remarks, thanking the president for his leadership.

“I share President Biden and @GovWesMoore‘s commitment to rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge and reopening the Port of Baltimore as soon as possible” he said.

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