Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse

Maryland lawmakers ask feds to pay for 100% of Key Bridge rebuild

Senate committee hearing considers how to pay for the replacement

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Lawmakers from Maryland testified before a U.S. Senate committee that the state shouldn’t pick up any of the bill for replacing the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was destroyed when it was struck by a cargo ship in March.

Wednesday’s Environment and Public Works Committee hearing included discussion over how the $1.7 billion cost of the rebuild will be covered.

Maryland wants the federal government to pay 100%.

“We’re one country, and when one state has an emergency of this kind of impact and consequence, we’re all neighbors,” Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said.

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that would remove a 10% cost-sharing requirement for the state.

“So, what factors do you think Congress should consider when reducing the required cost share for a … project?” asked Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

“We are asking for 100%, because that’s what we’ve done in the past, and we need it now, because we are lending contracts to start the construction now,” Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said. “We don’t want to delay this. Every month it’s delayed is additional loss to our communities.”

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Maryland leaders pushed back on the idea of toll revenues being used to help cover the cost, saying the state is losing millions of dollars in tolls since the bridge collapsed.

“We think that would be totally unfair, and I just have to be pretty honest about that,” Cardin said. “It would be penalizing our state.”

Officials testified a substantial amount of money from insurance, lawsuits and potential fines from the disaster will help offset the federal cost, but those funds could take years to recoup. The FBI launched an investigation to see if there was any criminal wrongdoing surrounding the disaster.

“Those monies that might be recovered go into the federal treasury, and that makes sense, because the way we’ve structured this is the federal government would be paying 100%,” Van Hollen said.

Officials emphasized they want to move quickly, saying there’s been an 18% increase in tunnel traffic and there’s more congestion as many drivers are using the 25-mile detour around the Baltimore Beltway.

“So, make no mistake about it, there is a serious impact until that bridge is replaced, and it’s going to take a couple of years,” Cardin said. “We recognize that.”

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