Bridge Collapse In Baltimore On The Minds Of Municipal Leaders, Including Frederick’s Mayor

He says the city does regular maintenance and inspection of infrastructure, but accidents can happen.

Frederick, Md (KM) The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday morning is on the minds of municipal officials across the country, including Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor. During an appearance Tuesday on WFMD’s “Morning News Express,” the Mayor said the city puts money into its budget to keep the bridges and other infrastructure in good shape.

“We’ll put funds into rehabilitation projects, road projects, anything that gets into making sure that we’re maintaining our infrastructure at the level necessary to sustain public safety,” he says.

The Mayor says the city does regular inspections of its bridges, roads and other infrastructure, but the unexpected can happen. “The biggest challenge we would face, as any community does, would be something that happens that’s unexpected and catastrophic,” O’Connor says.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, which carries Interstate 695–or the Baltimore Beltway–over the Patapsco River, collapsed early Tuesday morning at around 1:30  after it was struck by a cargo ship. The ship, named Dali, lost power, and hit the span which went  plunging into the river.

Several vehicles which were on the span at the time, fell into the water. One was the size of a tractor trailer, according to Kevin Cartwright, the director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department.

There were several people on the bridge who were doing pothole repair. All of them fell into the river. Two were rescued. Six are unaccounted for, and are believed to be dead, according to the Maryland State Police. The search for the missing is suspended until 6:00 AM on Wednesday.

Mayor O’Connor says local governments need to provide the necessary funding to keep their roads, bridges and other infrastructure  safe and in working order. “The infrastructure in this country has to be evaluated. And when it comes to bridges and roads, it’s critical,  it’s critical that we provide the funding necessary at all levels in order to make sure that these lifelines for our communities don’t collapse in front of our eyes,” he says.

In his comments on WFMD, the Mayor said the City of Frederick has a lot of aging water pipes, and there have been some water main breaks over the past three months.  But he says the city has been fortunate that these breaks have not been very costly monetarily. “It’s a big resource cost because it requires the deployment of personnel for hours to close off the break and get the system back running again,” O’Connor says.

By Kevin McManus