Biden says he wants federal government to pay for rebuilding of Baltimore bridge after cargo ship crash

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he wants the federal government to pay for the reconstruction of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed early Tuesday morning after a large cargo ship sailed straight into one of the bridge’s support pillars.

“We’re gonna work with our partners in Congress to make sure the state gets the support it needs. 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 brief remarks from the White House before leaving for North Carolina.

Biden said that it will take “some time” to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge that transverses the Patapsco River, but said he told Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, that he’s directing the federal government to “move heaven and earth” to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge “as soon as humanly possible.”

The president said he also plans to visit Baltimore as “quickly” as he can.

“Our prayers are with everyone involved in this terrible accident and all the families — especially those waiting for the news of their loved one right now,” Biden said. “I know every minute in that circumstance feels like a lifetime. You just don’t know. It’s just terrible.”

Biden said that a search and rescue operation is the top priority and ship traffic and the Port of Baltimore has been suspended until further notice.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the largest shipping hubs in the U.S. and is the top port in America for both imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks, Biden said, noting that 850,000 vehicles are moved through the port annually.

“We’re gonna get it up and running again as soon as possible…15,000 jobs depend on that port, and we’re going to do everything we can to protect those jobs and help those workers,” Biden said.

He also said that the bridge is “critical for travel,” not just for Baltimore but for the Northeast Corridor, stating that more than 30,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily. 

Several vehicles plunged into the water when the collision occurred at 1:30 a.m. ET. At least six people were still believed to be missing, Moore said at a press conference. Sonar used by rescue crews also detected at least five vehicles in the water, including three passenger cars, a cement truck and another vehicle, the governor said.

Moore also said that the Dali ship, which had just left the Port of Baltimore en route to Sri Lanka when the incident happened, notified authorities about a “power issue” on board and issued a mayday moments before the crash. Moore credited that call with saving people’s lives.

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