The importance of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge

The bridge transports 11.3 million vehicles a year on the I-695 freeway that surrounds the city.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed and was closed to traffic early Tuesday. The situation arose after what Maryland authorities described as an "accident." The bridge, part of Interstate 695, crosses the Patapsco River at the Port of Baltimore. The 1,200-foot main span is one of the longest in the country.

The Francis Scott Key opened in 1977 and is named after the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner." "Francis Scott Key is believed to have sat near the site of the bridge as he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814, inspiring him to write the words of the U.S. national anthem," CNN explained .

Bridge and Tunnels explained that "the Outer Harbor Crossing and associated approaches were planned as a two-lane freeway with provisions for dualization as traffic counts increased."

According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, cited by Reuters, the bridge transports 11.3 million vehicles a year on the I-695 freeway surrounding Baltimore, also known as the Baltimore Beltway.

Port of Baltimore generates 15,330 direct jobs

According to Maryland's official website, in the state's economy, the Port of Baltimore generates more than $3 billion in total personal income and supports 15,330 direct jobs and 139,180 jobs related to port work. The port also generates more than $395 million in taxes and $2 billion in commercial revenue. Likewise, it serves more than 50 maritime carriers that make almost 1,800 annual visits.

In 2023, cruises carrying more than 444,000 passengers departed from the Port of Baltimore's cruise terminal. The Port of Baltimore's cruise industry supports over 400 jobs and brings in over $63 million to Maryland's economy.

On Tuesday, the bridge collapsed after the container ship Dali, approximately 984 feet long and weighing 117,000 tons (including cargo), collided with the structure.

"I can confirm at 1:35 a.m., Baltimore City police were notified of a partial bridge collapse, with workers possibly in the water, at the Francis Scott Key Bridge," the Baltimore Police Department said in a statement. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said his prayers are with all those impacted.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency following the accident.