Biden visits site of Baltimore’s Francis Key Scott Bridge collapse

Written by on April 6, 2024

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Friday visited the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.

During his visit he received an operational briefing on the recovery efforts and an aerial tour aboard Marine One of the wreckage still in the Patapsco River.

Biden met with first responders to thank them for their brave efforts during the collapse. Later Friday, he was scheduled to meet with family members of the six workers killed in the bridge disaster.

The container ship Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge at about 1:30 a.m. on March 26, partially collapsing the bridge, officials in Maryland said.

Six construction workers are believed to have fallen from the collapsing bridge into the frigid waters of the Patapsco River. The bodies of two of the missing workers have since been recovered, while four remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead, officials said.

“They were hard workers laboring in the middle of the night to repair potholes on a bridge that tens of thousands of travelers crossed every day,” Jean-Pierre said during a briefing Thursday.

Biden was joined by Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other Baltimore officials during his visit.

Following the tragic collapse, Biden pledged to fully support Baltimore’s rebuilding efforts. He said it’s his “intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstruction of that bridge.”

The White House has since approved $60 million in emergency funding to assist in the initial mobilization and debris recovery efforts for Baltimore. While Moore expressed gratitude for the collective rallying behind the city, he said there is a “very long road ahead” for Baltimore and the reconstruction will be an “incredibly complex job.”

“The president is continuing to lead a whole-of-government approach in responding to the bridge collapse, as the president said within hours of the collapse, this administration will be with the people of Baltimore, every step of the way,” Jean-Pierre said during the Thursday briefing.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge has an annual traffic volume of 11.3 million vehicles, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The Port of Baltimore is the nation’s 17th largest in annual total tonnage of cargo as of 2021 and generates 15,300 direct jobs, with nearly 140,000 jobs connected to port activities, Moore said in a statement in February.

Jean-Pierre has discussed new efforts by the government to help support the local economy amid recovery.

“Today, the SBA [Small Business Administration] is launching two business recovery centers in Baltimore County. These centers will support impacted business owners’ income … in completing their disaster loan applications,” Jean-Pierre said Monday. “The Department of Labor is working with local and state officials to determine how to assist workers out of work due to closure of the port.”

The crash appeared to be accidental, not intentional, officials have said.

The Dali is a Singapore-flagged, 984-foot container ship. The Singaporean company that operates the ship should have “limited liability” in the aftermath of the crash, lawyers representing the company said in a lawsuit filed Monday.

“The casualty was not due to any fault, neglect, or want of care on the part of Petitioners, the Vessel, or persons or entities for whose petitioners may be responsible,” court documents filed in Maryland federal court say.

The White House continues to emphasize the unified approach to recovery efforts amid the ongoing investigation.

“President Biden and his team are working with Governor Moore, the congressional delegation, Mayor [Brandon] Scott, and numerous state and local officials to reopen the port, rebuild the bridge and support the people of Baltimore through the unified command,” Jean-Pierre said during a briefing Monday.

A small temporary channel has been opened for boats that are working on the bridge response, officials said.

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