Baltimore's shipping channel opens completely after bridge collapse

BALTIMORE– The main shipping channel to the Port of Baltimore was fully reopened to its original depth and width after the disaster March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which blocked most maritime traffic into the harbor.

Officials announced the full reopening in a news release Monday evening. It comes after a massive cleanup effort in which crews removed an estimated 50,000 tons of steel and concrete from the Patapsco River.

The canal was blocked by wreckage from the fallen bridge, which collapsed after a container ship lost power and crashed into one of the supporting columns. six members of a roadworks crew plunge to their deaths. All the victims were Latino immigrants who worked night shifts to patch holes in the bridge.

The Port of Baltimore, which handles more cars and farm equipment than any other port in the country, was closed for weeks while the wreckage was removed. Crews could do that reopen sections of the deep-draft canal in phases, which has restored commercial traffic in recent weeks.

The quirky freighter will depart on May 20 Dali was refloated and led back to port. The ship had been stuck amid the wreckage for almost two months, with a massive steel truss draped over the damaged bow.

After the Dali was moved, crews opened a canal that was 50 feet deep and 400 feet wide. The entire federal navigation channel is 700 feet (213 meters) wide, meaning two-way traffic can resume, officials said. They said other additional safety requirements have also been lifted due to the increased width.

Thousands of dock workers, truck drivers and small business owners have seen their jobs affected by the collapse, prompting local and state officials to prioritize reopening the port and restoring traffic to normal capacity in hopes of alleviate the situation. economic ripple effects.

The announcement on Monday means trade that depends on the busy port can start to get going again.

Officials said a total of 56 federal, state and local agencies participated in the salvage operations, including about 500 specialists from around the world operating a fleet of 18 ships, 22 tugboats, 13 floating cranes, 10 excavators and four research boats.

“I cannot emphasize enough how proud I am of our team,” said Col. Estee Pinchasin, Baltimore District Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers. “It was incredible to see so many people from different parts of our government, from across our country and around the world, come together in the Unified Command and accomplish so much in this amount of time.”

In a statement Monday, Pinchasin also acknowledged the loss suffered by the victims' families.

“Not a day went by that we didn't think about them all, and that kept us going,” she said.

The Dali lost power shortly after leaving Baltimore for Sri Lanka in the early hours of March 26. A National Transportation Safety Board research found There were power outages before it started its journey, but the exact causes of the electrical problems have yet to be determined. The FBI is also conducting a criminal investigation into the circumstances leading to the collapse.

Officials have said they hope to rebuild the bridge by 2028.

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