Baltimore Key Bridge to reopen imminently

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Baltimore Key Bridge set to reopen imminently

The full federal channel to the Port of Baltimore will reopen on 7 June ending nearly 11 weeks of halted vessel traffic following the Key Bridge collapse, reported CBS News.

After tireless salvage efforts, the 50-foot deep, 700-foot wide Fort McHenry Channel is now open, allowing all vessels to access the port. According to CBS News, the work to complete the federal channel’s restoration will conclude no later than 10 June.

“We are not taking our foot off the gas,” said Estee S. Pinchasin, USACE, Baltimore District commander.

“We are pushing forward as quickly and safely as possible to reach 700 feet and ensuring we remove all wreckage to prevent any impact to future navigation.”

On 26 March, the e 948-foot containership Dali struck the Key Bridge causing it to collapse and killing six construction workers. Debris from the collapse had restricted maritime travel through the key gateway until now.

Unified Command used explosives to break off large portions of the bridge last month. Cuts and precise incisions were made in the steel for placing explosives, which were then covered with what appeared to be heavy-duty tape. The controlled detonation shattered the truss into pieces, sending them into the Patapsco River.

CBS News reported that enough bridge debris was cleared from the Dali to refloat it a week after the controlled detonation. The Dali returned to the Port of Baltimore two hours after its departure from the bridge at a speed of around 1 mile per hour (mph), while being escorted by several tugboats.

Following the removal of the Dali, workers were able to resume wreckage removal from the federal channel. They continued clearing the wreckage from the riverbed by digging out the bottom cord of the remaining truss and cutting it into three sections for safe removal. According to a Unified Command Update, at the time of the ship’s removal, only about one-third of the truss was visible above the water, with the rest buried in the mud on the riverbed.

READ: Maersk reopens bookings for Baltimore

On 31 May, CBS News reported that, according to Unified Command, salvage crews successfully lifted a 470-short-tonne steel section of the Key Bridge truss, which had been buried in the river midline and had been holding the Dali in place for weeks.

“These final lifts are an important next step to re-opening the full 700-foot width of the navigation channel,” Unified Command said.

In May 2024, Carl Bentzel, Commissioner of the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), wrote to US President, Joe Biden, seeking financial aid to staff and businesses that have been stifled by the recent events that have transpired in the Port of Baltimore.

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