Baltimore bridge salvage operation will be a ‘Herculean undertaking,’ says White House adviser

White House adviser Tom Perez warned Sunday of the immense scale of the Francis Scott Key Bridge salvage project, bracing for the massive undertaking of clearing the entrance to the Port of Baltimore.

The Key Bridge collapsed last week after a container ship struck one of its supports, killing six people. The steel structure now blocks the entrance to the Port of Baltimore, threatening the East Coast supply chain and putting in limbo the port’s 15,000 jobs.

“The Port of Baltimore is an asset for the country, period, hard stop,” Perez said in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview on Sunday. “There are more cars, both imported and exported, that come out of the Port of Baltimore than any other port in America … agricultural impact, other critical necessities that the entire country needs, not just the state of Maryland.”

“It’s just a Herculean undertaking. And we have 10 tugs, nine barges, and seven cranes that will be there. Some are already there,” he said. “And we also are going to continue to work with neighboring ports that can temporarily, and Baltimore will be back. The Port of Baltimore will be back.”

Perez, the former secretary of Labor and Democratic National Committee chair, also backed up President Biden’s response to the crisis, adding that the president plans to visit the site soon.

“I want to come back to the humanity of the moment. The president’s no stranger, as you know, Symone, to personal tragedy,” he said to NBC’s Symone Sanders-Townsend. “And when I first met with him literally hours after this tragedy, that was the first thing on his mind, you know, ‘How do we help the families?’”

The six people killed in the collapse were road workers filling potholes on the bridge. The ship struck the bridge just after 1:30 a.m.

“The president looks forward to assessing the situation with his own two eyes and talking to the first responders, talking to the people leading the salvage operation, and making sure we never forget the families,” he said.

Estimates for the cost of a new Key Bridge rise into the billions and could take years. The White House is expected to request from Congress emergency funding for the project, setting up a political battle.

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