Bridge Collapse Is Just the Tip of Disaster Iceberg

( – The collapse of the Key Bridge at Baltimore harbor after the Dali cargo ship collided with it is likely to have a substantial impact on the economy. Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC CEO Ernie Thrasher estimated that the bridge’s almost total collapse will likely shut down exports of coal for up to six weeks and block the transporting of nearly 2.5 million tons of coal. The port is the second-largest coal export terminal and handled roughly 74 million tons of coal in 2024. The port has been completely shut down since the collision.

The reconstruction of the bridge may take far longer than it did in the 1970s, when the Key Bridge was built. Current concerns over the ecological impact of significant marine construction projects, combined with bureaucratic hesitancy, may prolong the reconstruction of the bridge across the Patapsco River.

The closure of the port could lead to inflation, bigger government deficits, and reduced production capacity. The Baltimore Port was the 17th busiest in the U.S. in 2021 and is the fourth-biggest on the East Coast. Governor Wes Moore stated that the port processed a record 52.3 million tons of imported cargo worth $80.8 billion in 2023.

The record high was the first in terms of the volume of light trucks, automobiles, construction, and farming machinery, as well as imported gypsum and sugar. Engineers have identified a $3 million structural flaw in the bridge as the cause of its collapse when the Dali hit the structure. Safety concerns were raised about more than half of the US’s 621,581 bridges after the incident.

Eight workers were on the bridge when it collapsed on March 27. Two workers were rescued on the day of the collapse, and the bodies of another two workers were discovered by divers in a red pickup truck the following day. The remaining four are presumed dead. Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, and Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, were identified as the two found in the pickup truck.

An official stated that it was no longer safe for divers to search the site due to the amount of debris and concrete in the water, and that sonar is now being used to find any remaining bodies that may be buried under the concrete debris. Salvage crews are addressing hazardous materials at the site.

The Biden administration has approved $60 million in emergency relief funds to help repair the bridge.

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