The company that rebuilt Genoa bridge is offering to do the same for Baltimore

May 3, 2024, 9:29 AM

The cargo ship Dali trapped under the remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Marylan...

The cargo ship Dali trapped under the remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, pictured on March 29. Mandatory Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

London (CNN) — The Italian company that helped rebuild a bridge that collapsed in Genoa in 2018 says it is ready to do the same in Baltimore.

WeBuild Group said in a press release Friday that it had sent a preliminary design and plans to US officials for the reconstruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which fell apart in late March after a cargo ship hit one of its pillars. Six construction workers died in the accident.

The company, which has a subsidiary in the United States, said its proposed design would produce a safer bridge by widening the channels through which ships can pass, among other measures.

The design will help prevent “the risk of a tragedy such as the one of March 26 happening again,” Carlo Ratti, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped develop the proposal, said in the press release.

The Morandi bridge in Italy’s port city of Genoa collapsed in August 2018 after heavy rainfall, killing 43 people.

When one of its main pylons fell mid-morning, it brought a section of road spanning 600 feet (183 meters) crashing down onto a railway and buildings below, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of people.

WeBuild Group was among the companies that built the Genoa San Giorgio bridge in just 15 months to replace the Morandi bridge. The project, completed in 2020, cost a total of €290 million ($312 million), including the cost of demolishing the remains of the collapsed bridge.

The Maryland Transportation Authority expects to put out formal invites for proposals to rebuild the bridge by the end of May.

The MDTA is responsible for financing revenue-generating transportation projects in the state, according to its Facebook page.

A costly rebuild

Baltimore’s bridge, also known as the Key Bridge, was a vital artery for traffic heading into the Port of Baltimore, a major hub for imports and exports of commodities, vehicles and other goods. As many as 35,000 cars and trucks used it daily.

Its collapse in March temporarily closed much of the port’s operations, though four temporary channels have since reopened, allowing some ship traffic to resume.

In the wake of the disaster, President Joe Biden pledged the full support of the federal government in the recovery efforts.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said, vowing that the federal government “will pay the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge.”

The MDTA estimates that rebuilding the Key Bridge will cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion and expects the reconstruction to be completed by the fall of 2028, the Maryland Department of Transportation confirmed to CNN Friday.

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The company that rebuilt Genoa bridge is offering to do the same for Baltimore