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The Devastating Impact of the Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

On the morning of March 26, 2024 a cargo ship had lost power and the captain was unable to steer the cargo ship away from the Francis Scott Key Bridge. This resulted in the ship crashing into the bridge and causing major structural damage.
Harford County Maryland Fire and EMS
On the morning of March 26, 2024 a cargo ship had lost power and the captain was unable to steer the cargo ship away from the Francis Scott Key Bridge. This resulted in the ship crashing into the bridge and causing major structural damage.

The U.S. nation was shocked to hear a container ship, Dali, leaving the Port of Maryland, suddenly lost power and crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024 at 1:30 a.m. A construction crew of eight men were working on filling the bridge’s potholes that morning, but all eight of the workers had fallen into the 45 degree Fahrenheit water. Three of their bodies have been recovered and two of them were found alive, but the other three remain missing. 

This collapse hasn’t just impacted families, it’s also impacted small businesses and the economy.  Many small businesses relied on the Francis Scott Key Bridge to ship their products to customers but when the bridge collapsed, small business owners had to find more expensive ways to ship their products. The original construction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was very expensive and now it may take over $400 million dollars to repair.

“The federal government generally picks up 90% of the tab and the state 10% when replacing disaster-damaged interstate, highways, and bridges.” Newspaper Bill will clarify that feds fully pay for replacing Key Bridge explains.

Dali’s weight and force was part of the reason as to why the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed; the other part was because of the ship losing power. This caused the captain to be unable to steer the boat away from the ship. 

“The cargo ship that hit the bridge was called the Dali. The Dali is 984 feet long and weighs a little over 95,000 tons empty. At the time of the crash, the Dali had about 4,000 containers on board, the weight was a bit more than that. The Dali was traveling at 9 mph through the Patapsco River before it lost power. A ship that size is hard to stop, even if it is traveling relatively slowly, due to its inertia. Inertia is the tendency of an object to remain in motion or at rest, unless a force is acted upon it,” physics teacher Mr. Keller says. “The more massive an object is, the more inertia it has and the greater the force is needed to stop or start its motion. Due to the Dali’s inertia, it would take the ship many miles before it could come to a complete stop. It has been calculated that the Dali hit the bridge with 26 million pounds of force. For reference, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials specifies that the collision force on a highway bridge pier from a truck crash is about 400,000 pounds.” 

People wonder how long the bridge will take to build. With our current technology, we have the ability to finish the bridge quicker from when it was first built. 

I am assuming it will be rebuilt. I know the bridge took 5 years to build back in the ’70s. I think it’ll be faster than that but it’s going to take awhile,” History teacher Mr. Smarick says.

On April 8th, two weeks after the collision, workers started to remove containers off of Dali which may take several more weeks until all the containers are removed from the ship. The government is slowly but surely trying to remove all the debris on the bridge to start repairs on the Francis Scott Key Bridge. 

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Vivian Sherrill
Vivian Sherrill, Writer
Vivian Sherrill is in 9th grade, she likes to listen to music, hanging out with her friends, and writing.
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