MDTA Plans Key Bridge Replacement Meeting


Officials from the Maryland Transportation Authority are reportedly planning to host a Virtual Industry Forum on May 7 to discuss the rebuilding of the recently collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

The MDTA explained that the meeting will focus on the anticipated Progressive Design-Build (PDB) Process, outlining a pending Request for Proposals with potential consultants, contractors and subcontractors.

What Happened

The bridge collapse occurred around 1 a.m. on March 26 after a container ship ran into one of the bridge's supports. Video and images showed the collapse, with part of the bridge landing on top of the shipping vessel.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore confirmed at a press conference that day that the cargo ship Dali had reported losing power just before it crashed. Moore said that an emergency call from the ship allowed officials to limit traffic on the bridge before the crash, as the structure typically sees thousands of vehicles per day.

According to a buoy that collects data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sonar had indicated that there were vehicles in the water, where the temperature was about 47 degrees Fahrenheit.

With the frigid temperature, in addition to coastal flood advisories around Chesapeake Bay and rip currents, search and rescue crews said at the time that weather conditions have been complicating operations. Additionally, the human survivability at that temperature is one to three hours.

Moore also reportedly declared a state of emergency after the incident and said that he was working to get federal resources deployed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was on the scene and have since confirmed that there was “no indication of terrorism as a motivating factor.”

The container ship was reportedly chartered by shipping company Maersk and was carrying customer cargo when the incident occurred. However, no Maersk crew or personnel were on board the vessel at the time of the crash.

The Dali was reportedly not being piloted by its own crew, but by local pilots who are used specifically to avoid accidents like the one that occurred. The pilots typically get on board just outside of local channels and take the ships into ports.

The National Transportation Safety Board was on the scene to lead the investigation into the collapse. At a press conference that day, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said they believe that voyager data will play a critical role in the investigation.

A team of 24 experts planned to dig into nautical operations, vessel operations, safety history records, owners, operators, company policy and any sort of safety management systems or programs.

Following the collapse, engineers reportedly began working to remove the first pieces of the bridge as an investigation continued into what factors caused the fatal incident.

Homendy reported that the vessel had 56 containers on board of corrosive flammable material and batteries, adding that some of the containers were breached. One of the materials was sheen, which is used in paint, and that has leaked into the Patapsco River.

NTSB officials had also boarded the vessel to obtain its black box, which provided an initial timeline of events through voyage data recorder information. “Numerous aural alarms were recorded on the ships’ bridge audio,” the NTSB found.

Later, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that a 1,000-ton capacity lift crane was on site and a 600-ton crane is on its way to help remove dismantled pieces of the bridge.

Removing the thousands of tons of steel and concrete resting atop the vessel’s bow was expected to be one of the most intricate parts of the dismantling operation, officials added. The wreckage was to be lifted one piece at a time.

After each lift, responders were to scan and survey the area and divers to go in the water, explained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander and District Engineer Estee Pinchasin. The work allowed for the opening of a temporary restricted channel for vessels to move into the area and assist with recovery, Moore said.

Officials did not have a timeline for reopening the channel or rebuilding the bridge at the time of the report. The work was funded through $60 million in emergency relief funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What Now

The upcoming virtual meeting is expected to take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday (May 7) and will address how to receive a certification from the Maryland Disadvantaged Business Enterprise for the federal contracting opportunity. The RFP is reportedly set to be released by the end of this month.

“Rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge and reconnecting the I-695 Baltimore Beltway as expeditiously and safely as possible remains a top priority for MDTA. The anticipated contracting process is a significant opportunity for the consulting and construction community in Maryland to bring their skills to the table of this important project,” said MDTA’s Executive Director Bruce Gartner.

“The upcoming forum will bring together the industry’s diverse prime contractors and sub-contractors in a unified effort to rebuild the Key Bridge.”

The meeting will reportedly include a presentation from the MDTA, which will also be available to answer questions about the PDB project delivery method, procurement process and DBE opportunities and certification.

The MDTA has reportedly encouraged industry professionals to submit questions in advance online. Questions are expected to be limited to the upcoming procurement opportunity, with all questions and answers posted to the website after the meeting.

Additionally, individuals requiring special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or translation services have been urged to contact the agency's Title VI Officer via email or phone by 5 p.m. on May 6.

Registration for the virtual meeting is now open, those interested in attending or submitting questions can click here.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Bridges; Certifications and standards; Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Controls; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Meetings; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways; Safety; Transportation

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