In the early hours of Tuesday, March 26, 2024, the Francis Scott Key Bridge near Baltimore, Maryland, experienced a catastrophic collapse following a collision with the Singaporean container ship DALI. This incident has had profound implications for the region, affecting both transportation logistics and local communities.

The collapse was triggered when the DALI, a massive vessel measuring approximately 984 feet in length, struck one of the bridge’s support pillars around 1:30 a.m. At the time of the collision, the bridge was undergoing maintenance, and a construction crew was present, leading to immediate concerns for their safety. The rapid response from emergency services, combined with the precautionary halting of vehicular traffic, helped prevent further casualties.

Maryland officials declared a State of Emergency shortly after the collapse, highlighting the severity of the situation and the extensive efforts required for recovery. Given the bridge’s truss structure design, meaning the integrity of one part of the bridge is crucial for the whole, a strike to a single pier could lead to a total structural failure, as observed in this incident​​​​. By declaring a State of Emergency, federal, state and local officials can begin rebuilding efforts with less red tape and little funding and financing trouble.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge is more than just a physical structure; it represents a critical artery for regional traffic flow and economic activities. Opened in 1977 and serving over 30,000 commuters daily, the bridge’s collapse has severed a vital transport and port/shipping corridor along the East Coast, compelling vehicles (and boats) to reroute and disrupting the usual flow of goods and services.

Traffic Implications:

As expected, traffic congestion increased in key areas following the collapse. An initial analysis revealed freeway to freeway interchanges experienced the largest boost to travel times.

Noted in black in the map above, large speed reductions were found along I-95, I-895 and MD-295 on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the collapse. Speeds on road segments along those routes fell to a low of 10 mph on the Harbor Tunnel Thruway (I-895) and 14 mph on I-95 near the I-695 Interchange. Additionally, traffic speeds dropped to a low of 13 mph between the I-895 Interchange and the I-95 Interchange.

The Key Bridge carried about 40,000 vehicles on the average day. INRIX data reveals that traffic across the bridge before the collapse was comprised of 72% passenger vehicles, 20% local fleet and delivery vehicles, and the remaining 8% semi trucks.

The Key Bridge was also vital in the movement of hazardous material. Since the proposed detour routes are tunnels that require restricting hazardous materials, trucks carrying these goods must reroute all the way around I-695, adding to truck travel times.


Recovery and rebuilding efforts will undoubtedly be complex and time-consuming. Unlike recent bridge collapses on I-95 in Philadelphia, I-85 in Atlanta, and the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington state, a temporary span is not likely to be put in place due to the topography, requiring more time-consuming, permanent solutions.


The incident has far-reaching economic implications, especially for the Port of Baltimore, a major hub for both imports and exports, including automobiles and light trucks. The disruption caused by the Key Bridge collapse extends beyond local traffic inconvenience, affecting maritime activities and the logistics of goods movement through one of the East Coast’s busiest ports​​.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities in our infrastructure and the cascading effects such incidents can have on communities, economies, and the environment. It also underscores the necessity for continuous investment in infrastructure maintenance and improvements, as well as the importance of emergency preparedness and response capabilities. As the region begins to recover and rebuild, lessons learned from this event will hopefully inform future infrastructure projects, ensuring they are safer, more resilient, and better prepared to withstand unforeseen challenges.