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Monday, April 15, 2024

Buttigieg Urges Congress for Additional Funding to Rebuild Baltimore Bridge

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Maryland Democrats are urging Congress to authorize additional federal funding to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after its collapse last week. The collapse has raised concerns about the impact on the local economy and the nation’s logistics network.

Appearing on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Secretary Buttigieg emphasized the importance of bipartisan support for infrastructure projects, citing the swift approval of funds for the reconstruction of a Minnesota bridge following its collapse in 2007. He stressed that investing in infrastructure is crucial for preventing similar incidents and ensuring the safety and efficiency of transportation networks nationwide.

The Department of Transportation has already allocated $60 million in emergency federal highway funding for the bridge’s reconstruction, but experts estimate that the total cost could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. This initial funding is considered a “down payment” and is unlikely to cover the full cost of construction.

Maryland officials, including Governor Wes Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, have underscored the national significance of the Port of Baltimore and the economic ramifications of the bridge collapse. Governor Moore emphasized that the disruption to port operations affects not only Baltimore or Maryland but the entire U.S. economy, particularly industries reliant on the port for shipping goods such as cars and trucks.

Mayor Scott echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that the port’s importance extends beyond Maryland’s borders and has implications for the broader national economy. He stressed the need for bipartisan cooperation to address the infrastructure challenges facing Baltimore and ensure the efficient functioning of critical transportation hubs.

President Biden has pledged federal support for the bridge’s reconstruction, promising that the federal government will cover the entire cost of the project. However, this commitment has faced criticism from Republican lawmakers and some within the president’s own party, who question the feasibility of fully funding the reconstruction without holding shipowners accountable for the collapse.

Representative Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania criticized President Biden’s pledge for federal funding as “outrageous” and raised concerns about the government’s spending priorities. The debate over funding highlights broader divisions within Congress over infrastructure investment and the role of federal funding in addressing infrastructure challenges nationwide.

While efforts to clear the debris blocking the shipping lane to the port are underway, experts warn that the full recovery of the Port of Baltimore could take several years. Engineers anticipate that rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge will be a complex and lengthy process, further underscoring the need for sustained investment in infrastructure resilience and safety measures.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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