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Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Francis Scott Key Bridge

Francis Scott Key Bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, also referred to as the Outer Harbor Bridge or simply Key Bridge, served as a roadway link in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It facilitated the passage of four lanes from the Interstate 695 (Baltimore Beltway) across the southeast portion of the city over the Patapsco River. Following an incident on March 26, 2024, where the bridge was struck by the container ship Dali, its over 800-meter-long steel truss, spanning the navigational channels from the Port of Baltimore to the Atlantic, collapsed.

The Urban Institute, a think tank, has initially estimated that the costs for rebuilding will amount to several billion US dollars.

Location of the bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, also known as the Key Bridge, was a significant infrastructure piece in Baltimore, Maryland, serving as part of the Interstate 695, the “Baltimore Beltway”. It facilitated the transport of an estimated 11.5 million vehicles annually and was a designated route for hazardous materials since such cargoes were prohibited from the nearby Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels. This made the bridge an essential part of Maryland’s transportation network, connecting Hawkins Point in Baltimore to Dundalk and serving as a major thoroughfare for the region.


The bridge’s history began in the 1960s when the Maryland State Roads Commission identified the need for a second harbor crossing. Initially, plans included a tunnel and a drawbridge but ultimately led to the decision to construct a four-lane bridge. The construction began in 1972 and was completed in 1977, with the bridge being named after Francis Scott Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Key was inspired to write the national anthem after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Interestingly, the location of the bridge is near where Key was during the bombardment, and a buoy marking this historic site is placed near the bridge.


The collapse of the bridge on March 26, 2024, was a dramatic event. The Singapore-flagged container ship Dali, experiencing a complete power outage, collided with one of the bridge’s support pillars, leading to a catastrophic failure of the structure. This incident resulted in the bridge breaking apart in several places and the main span falling onto the ship’s bow.