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Maryland board to consider $50M contract with Skanska for Key Bridge cleanup

A crane lifts a container from the Dali two weeks after the ship lost power and hit a pier of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing a catastrophic collapse

Posted on June 24, 2024

Baltimore’s shipping channel is fully re-opened after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse and the cargo ship Dali, which knocked the bridge over, will soon head out of town — but the bills from the disaster’s cleanup are starting to come in.

Maryland’s Board of Public Works will consider at its next meeting a $50.3 million contract between the Maryland Transportation Authority and Skanska, a Swedish construction company, for “removal, disposal and cleanup of debris” following the collapse of the Key Bridge. The proposal is on the board’s July 3 agenda, which was posted Friday.

“The debris consists mainly of large sections of highway bridge trusses, steel girders, the bridge deck, and concrete parapets,” the agenda item stated.

The contract was awarded April 23, according to the agenda item, and will last six months, until Oct. 22. A Skanska news release last week noted that the contract’s work would conclude in July. The contract will be 100% funded by state toll revenue, the agenda item stated, however, the transportation authority “anticipates that this work is eligible for federal reimbursement.”

The cargo ship Dali lost power in the early hours of March 26 and crashed into a Key Bridge support pier, knocking the span into the water and killing six construction workers. The debris blocked the shipping pathway for months, but the 700-foot wide, 50-feet deep channel fully reopened last week.

The Skanska contract is not for clearing that precise channel, however, but for the surrounding area — including the temporary channels used by salvage and commercial vessels following the collapse.

“The debris in the federal channel of the river was removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),” the agenda item stated. “The MDTA is responsible for removing the debris from the areas outside of the federal channel.”

The transportation authority initiated the contract on an emergency basis with Skanska, rather than following the typical procurement process, because of the “urgency of completion,” as well as the risk of “underwater demolition.”

“Procuring the debris removal through competitive bidding would have delayed the removal by a minimum of eight months,” according to the agenda item.

Skanska was chosen, in part, because it “successfully demolished the existing Nice/Middleton Bridge across the Potomac River,” which also meant it was “already mobilized” nearby.

Efforts to remove roughly 50,000 tons of steel and roadway from the Patapsco River have cost at least $160 million in federal funds thus far. Democratic President Joe Biden authorized $60 million in federal emergency relief funds to the state in the days following the disaster and the Army corps, as well as the Coast Guard, spent roughly $100 million on cleanup.

The rebuilt bridge, which is expected to open by October 2028, will cost an estimated $1.7 billion. Proposals are due Monday and the transportation authority is expected to pick a building team by the end of the summer.

The Dali has remained in Baltimore since the collapse but is tentatively scheduled to depart Monday morning for Norfolk, Virginia, for further repairs.


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