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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

US House Panel to Hold Hearing on Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 9, 2024

(Photo: Christopher Rosario / USACE)

(Photo: Christopher Rosario / USACE)

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a May 15 hearing on the federal government's response to the collapse of a Baltimore bridge.

The Dali containership crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, killing six people.

The hearing will include Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy and senior officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers. The NTSB is expected to announce preliminary findings from the investigation next week.

Last month, Homendy said investigators had conducted interviews with key cargo ship personnel in the investigation including the pilots, the second officer - who was the man on watch at the time of the crash - and other key personnel, as well as U.S. Coast Guard personnel.

The NTSB has downloaded the voyage data recorder and brought in the manufacturer of equipment in the engine room to closely examine the electrical power system work. The NTSB is also looking at the circuit breakers and has tested the fuel onboard the ship.

Maryland said last week it estimated it will cost $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion to rebuild the bridge and expects it will be completed by fall 2028.

Lawmakers in Congress are working on legislation that would waive the current requirement that the state pay 10% of the rebuilding costs and ensure there is enough money in a federal rebuilding fund.

The U.S. Department of Transportation previously provided an initial $60 million in emergency funds to clear debris and start the process of rebuilding the bridge.

The collision has also raised concerns about whether there are adequate structural safeguards around other key U.S. bridges.

(Reuters - Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Michael Erman)