Mast Blasts Army Corps for Planning to Divert Florida Funding for Collapsed Bridge in Maryland

brian Mast

The tragedy that was the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, saw the death of six construction workers after a container ship hit the structure in late March. However, Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) questions the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from funding for Florida water infrastructure projects to assist the cleanup efforts.

“The Army Corps is going to take away money from water projects in Florida to rebuild the bridge that was struck and collapsed in Maryland without giving us answers about what effect it will have on our state,” said Rep. Mast. “We don’t know if this money could be better used here in Florida. We also don’t know what insurance the state of Maryland or the shipping company has to cover the loss.”

The total amount of funding that is planned to be diverted from Florida is $831,070. In a letter to Jacksonville District Commander Colonel James Booth of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rep. Mast blasted the organization for their lack of communication with the Florida delegation before reaching this decision.

“This decision seems to have been made with little input from Florida lawmakers,” said Mast. “In fact, the entire Florida congressional delegation was only informed of this action via email. Initially, we were led to believe that we needed to actively object, or that it would be assumed members concurred with the decision for the funds to be reprogrammed. The overwhelming response, from both Republican and Democratic members, was that the Corps should not take any funding out of the state of Florida. Now, we understand that the Army Corps has the authority to take this action and its last-minute outreach to Congress was more of a notification than a request for sign-off.”

Other than his questions for the Army Corps Colonel and the final paragraph requesting a response, Mast concluded by stating, “I’m concerned about the impact this action will have on our state’s water infrastructure, including canals, ports, and our ever-important fight for clean water.”

The Florida congressman’s questions included:

  1. Who made the decision to divert funding from Florida to Maryland?
  2. How will this impact any ongoing work the Corps is doing or could undertake in the State of Florida on a project-by-project basis?
  3. Is this decision exclusive to the Jacksonville District or will other districts have their funding diverted as well?
  4. What, if any, risk assessments were conducted to ensure diverting this money will not adversely impact the economy and environment of Florida?
  5. Why did the Army Corps take this course of action instead of submitting supplemental appropriations request to cover costs associated with the collapsed bridge in Maryland?
  6. How much liability does the federal government have for the collapse of the bridge, compared to the state of Maryland and the company responsible?
  7. Is there no insurance policy by either the federal government, state of Maryland, or company responsible that can cover cleanup and rebuilding costs?

The post Mast Blasts Army Corps for Planning to Divert Florida Funding for Collapsed Bridge in Maryland appeared first on The Floridian.

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