Home News Bridge Collapse in Baltimore Puts an Election Year Spotlight on Infrastructure

Bridge Collapse in Baltimore Puts an Election Year Spotlight on Infrastructure

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Bridge Collapse in Baltimore Puts an Election Year Spotlight on Infrastructure

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President Biden said on Tuesday that the federal government would “pay the entire cost of reconstructing” the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, adding that he hoped it would be rebuilt and reopened “as soon as humanly possible.”

Mr. Biden’s midday remarks from the White House came as he sought to demonstrate a robust federal government response to the bridge disaster, the second on a major interstate highway in the nation’s Northeast Corridor in 10 months.

The president’s optimism about rebuilding Baltimore’s bridge follows the successful effort last summer to put back together an Interstate 95 overpass in Philadelphia that collapsed after a fire.

Mr. Biden visited six days later and stood alongside Pennsylvania’s governor for an announcement that the overpass would be repaired and reopened within two weeks. Baltimore’s bridge collapse is a far larger infrastructure project that is all but certain to take much longer to repair. Mr. Biden said at the White House that he expected to visit “as soon as I can.” No trip has yet been arranged, officials said.

Maryland isn’t a presidential battleground, but like Pennsylvania, it does have a Democratic governor who is a key Biden ally with significant political ambitions of his own and a Senate race that will help determine which party controls the chamber next year.

Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland declared a state of emergency. Mr. Biden said he and the governor had spoken Tuesday morning.

It will take time to determine the political fallout from the Baltimore bridge collapse. The dramatic video of the Francis Scott Key Bridge crumbling into the Patapsco River is ready made for doom-and-gloom political ads. The human toll of the collapse remains undetermined. And if Baltimore’s port is closed for a significant period, it would enact a severe and extended economic toll on the region.

So far Maryland officials have not sought to cast blame or seek a partisan advantage. Former Gov. Larry Hogan, a centrist Republican who is running for the Senate, wrote on social media that he was praying for those still missing. The two Democrats in a primary to face Mr. Hogan, Representative David Trone and Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive, released similar statements of grief and shock.

When the Interstate 95 bridge in Philadelphia reopened 15 days after it collapsed, Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania declared it a feat of government competence and has since incorporated it into his talking points for why Mr. Biden deserves a second term.

Now Mr. Biden, who is scheduled to travel to North Carolina on Tuesday, has another high-profile opportunity to demonstrate how his administration responds to a major civic calamity.

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