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Senators Cardin, Van Hollen push for feds to cover cost of Key Bridge rebuild

Posted at 6:31 PM, Jul 10, 2024

BALTIMORE — Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin argued in favor of the federal government picking up the tab for replacing the Key Bridge to the Environment and Public Works committee.

Estimates say it will cost $1.7 billion and take more than four years to complete.

"Make no mistake about it, there is a serious impact until that bridge is replaced and it's going to take a couple of years we recognize that but we need to act quickly," said Cardin to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.

It's already agreed the federal government will cover 90% of the costs, which is the general rule for disasters on major interstates.

What's in question is 10% of the total cost which is typically the state's responsibility.

Senator Shelley Capito from West Virginia questioned why the state wouldn't use toll revenue from the bridge to pay back its share.
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"Why is it wrong to assume if you're the American taxpayer since you have a dedicated source of revenue there that over time you would not be asked to pay the 10% cost share that Maryland would have to bear, make the argument there," said Sen. Capito.
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I think there are some other factors here, one is that we are losing revenue now and we will continue to lose that revenue for the next four and a half years," said Maryland Secretary of Transportation Paul Wiedefeld.

Senator Cardin pushed back against questions of Maryland's ability to cover its share of the costs.

Asking Shailen Bhatt from the Federal Highway Administration about the scope and scale of the Key Bridge collapse.
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"It will be the largest maritime claim so from a precedent standpoint, it is unprecedented," said Bhatt.

"I hope this puts somewhat to rest the difference between this tragedy and emergency relief funding vs a lot of the others that are no where in this category whatsoever," said Sen. Cardin.

The state also expects higher maintenance costs on the new bridge.

Ultimately, Maryland wants this assurance from the government so there's no question about financing when going through the rebuilding process.