The new Key Bridge is estimated to be completed by fall 2028 and will cost an estimated $1.9 billion, officials say – Baltimore Sun

Maryland transportation officials said Thursday they expect to replace the Francis Scott Key Bridge with a new span in just over four years.

The project to replace the span of Interstate 695 by the fall of 2028 is estimated to cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion, Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday.

Plans to replace the 2.6-mile bridge have been in flux since the bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River early March 26 when a support column was struck by a cargo ship, killing six construction workers. Experts initially estimated it would take between two and 15 years to replace the bridge, which closed the loop of the Baltimore Beltway when it opened in 1977.

The cost estimate is preliminary and detailed technical details have not yet been confirmed, Wiedefeld said in a telephone interview. An important caveat in the timeline will also go through the bidding process. To save time, the project will be a “progressive design-build” project, meaning the selected contractor will hire a designer and plan the steps as they go.

The new bridge is expected to be paid for largely or entirely with federal funds, with Maryland’s entire congressional delegation proposing legislation to ensure the federal government covers all costs. Democratic President Joe Biden has pledged that the federal government will pay for the entire response, and committed to “moving heaven and earth to rebuild this bridge as quickly as humanly possible” when he visited the site of the collapse last month . His administration has started that process by initially releasing $60 million in emergency relief funds for Wiedefeld’s department. Maryland Governor Wes Moore was scheduled to discuss funding with House lawmakers Thursday morning in Washington.

Until Thursday, most considerations about the new bridge were hypothetical, with officials focused on clearing the nearly 50,000 tons of steel and concrete from the bridge’s path that has blocked the Port of Baltimore from most shipping traffic. Crews were still in the water Thursday, clearing the wreckage of the old bridge from the river and locating the last construction worker killed in the collapse. Officials said earlier this week that they are focusing on removing pieces of steel from the Dali in an effort to refloat the massive cargo ship that collided with the bridge last month. While alternative canals are allowing larger vessels in every week, the main 15-metre canal is expected to open later this month.