Army Corps of Engineers to deploy 1,100 personnel to Baltimore after bridge collapse

(The Hill) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is deploying more than 1,100 personnel to Baltimore, Maryland, following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Patapsco River early Tuesday morning, the service said in a statement. 

The corps’ Baltimore District has activated its Emergency Operations Center, “clearing the way for more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists to provide support to local, state and federal agencies” in clearing the fallen bridge, the Army said in the release.   

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The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major bridge in Baltimore, collapsed just seconds after being struck by the Dali, a cargo ship managed by Synergy Marine Group and owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd, a Singaporean company. 

The crumbling bridge sent multiple cars and construction workers who had been filling potholes plunging into the chilly waters below, with six people now missing and presumed dead. 

The accident is likely to have massive economic impacts on Baltimore, where the port is used to import cars and food products and export coal. Maryland state data notes that 850,000 car and truck imports have rotated through the area, and some 30,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily. 

Vessel traffic into and out of the port has been suspended until further notice, though the facility is still open to trucks. 

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President Biden on Tuesday pledged to send Baltimore “all the federal resources they need as we respond to this emergency,” promising “we're going to rebuild that port together.” 

The Army Corps of Engineers will help remove bridge debris from the river using the removal vessel Reynolds, which patrols the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River waters for drift and debris that could be hazardous to navigation.  

The corps will also use a 61-foot survey vessel, the Catlett, to review the damage.  

The Coast Guard, which helped with search-and-rescue efforts shortly after the collapse, said it would lead the accident investigation and pollution response. 

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