Biden vows ‘we will not rest’ until Baltimore’s Key Bridge is rebuilt as he visits scene of disaster

As workers continue efforts to cut apart and remove the twisted wreckage of what was once the Francis Scott Key Bridge, President Joe Biden vowed that he and his administration “will not rest” until a replacement span is rebuild and carrying vehicles across the Patapsco River once more.

Standing outside the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department headquarters not far from where the bridge once stood, Mr Biden repeated the promise he made in remarks delivered from the White House, mere hours after the container ship Dali struck one of the half-century-old span’s supports, bringing it down and blocking all maritime traffic in and out of Baltimore’s harbour.

As Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and a bevy of other Old Line State dignaries looked on, Mr Biden said:  “We’re going to move heaven and earth to rebuild this bridge”.

Addressing the people of Maryland, the president pledged that with the aid of the state’s congressional delegation, the country would “have your back” and the federal government would cover the cost of rebuilding.

He also paid tribute to the four highway workers, “hard-working, strong, and selfless,” who lost their lives when the bridge span they were repairing plunged from beneath their feet and cast them into the icy water just over two weeks ago.

Recalling how one of them, a man he identified as Carlos, had placed a call to his girlfriend to tell her he and his colleagues were taking a break to rest so the cement they’d just poured could dry, Mr Biden invoked the fallen worker’s last message as he said he would not rest “until the cement has dried on the entirety of a new bridge”.


The president’s visit to the site of the collapse comes amid continuing questions as to how the promised rebuilding efforts will be funded.

Although Mr Biden has called on Congress to ensure that the federal government covers the entire cost of a new bridge to speed up the process of replacing the downed span, some Republicans have dismissed the idea and have instead suggested the federal government should instead first recover the costs from the owner of the Dali, the container ship which struck the bridge’s support after it lost propulsion early in the morning of 26 March.

Already, the Biden administration has poured $60m from an emergency fund into the initial salvage and recovery efforts led by the US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal entities. And Mr Moore, the Maryland chief executive, announced another $60 million had been allocated from the state’s coffers when he spoke on Friday, just before the president took to the stage.

Mr Biden said those federal funds have been put to good use in implementing what he called the “first priority” of recovery — reopening the Port of Baltimore.

He said he’d directed the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the twisted wreckage that blocks the vital shipping channel “as quickly as possible and as safely as possible,” and he also reported that the Army has already announced plans to open a temporary channel for commercial traffic — including the roll-on/roll-off vehicle carriers that are the port’s lifeblood — by the end of this month, with a full reopening of the port’s shipping lane coming by the end of May.

President Joe Biden thanks first responders for their efforts during the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Friday, April 5, 2024 in Dundalk, Md. (AP)
President Joe Biden thanks first responders for their efforts during the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Friday, April 5, 2024 in Dundalk, Md. (AP)

Continuing, the president said the government will also release $8m to make improvements at the Sparrow’s Point port facility on the far side of the bridge so it can take on more ships while work to clear the channel continues, as well as Dislocated Worker Grants and Small Business Administration loans to keep workers impacted by the port closure on the job.

He said businesses that rely on the port, including Amazon, Home Depot and Domino Sugar, had committed to keep their workforce on the payroll and their businesses in Baltimore while the cleanup continues.

“I call on every company at and around the pointed the same thing — commit to stay ... we’re coming back soon, folks,” he said, adding that his administration would work to rebuild the bridge “as rapidly as humanly possible ... with union labour and American steel”.

“My administration is committed absolutely committed to ensuring that the parties responsible for this strategy pay to repair the damage and be held accountable to the fullest extent the law will allow. But also want to be clear. We will support Maryland and Baltimore every step of the way to help you rebuild and maintain all the business and commerce that's here now,” he added.