How Can the Key Bridge Rebuild be Designed to Prevent a Similar Disaster?

As officials continue to investigate the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, experts say it is unlikely any bridge could have withstood the impact of a vessel as large as the Dali cargo ship. But some additional protections could have helped mitigate the disaster.

“While it was shocking to see something made of steel and concrete come down so quickly, it wasn’t really surprising given the size of the vessel in comparison to the bridge piers,” said Rachel Sangree, an associate teaching professor in Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Civil and Systems Engineering.

Benjamin W. Schafer, a structural engineer and professor of civil and systems engineering at Johns Hopkins, said the Key Bridge did have some protection at the bottom of the bridge, as evidenced by the pier that’s still standing. But that wasn’t enough to ward against the 984-foot ship.