Baltimore shipping channel fully reopens after bridge collapse

Baltimore Shipping Channel Fully Reopens After Bridge Collapse
Maryland Bridge Collapse, © Copyright 2024 Associated Press. All rights reserved
Share this article

By Lea Skene, Associated Press

The main shipping channel into Baltimore’s port has fully reopened to its original depth and width following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which blocked most maritime traffic into the harbour.

Officials announced the full reopening in a news release on Monday evening.


It comes after a massive clean-up effort, during which crews removed an estimated 50,000 tonnes of steel and concrete from the Patapsco River.

The channel was blocked by the wreckage of the fallen bridge, which collapsed after a container ship lost power and crashed into one of its supporting columns.

Maryland Bridge Collapse
Part of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge (Julia Nikhinson/AP)


The crash also sent six members of a roadwork crew plunging to their deaths.

All of the victims were Latino immigrants working an overnight shift to fill potholes on the bridge.

The Port of Baltimore, which processes more cars and farm equipment than any other country, was effectively closed for several weeks while the wreckage was removed.

Crews were able to reopen portions of the deep-draft channel in phases, restoring some commercial traffic in recent weeks.


On May 20, the wayward cargo ship Dali was refloated and guided back to port.

The vessel had been stuck amid the wreckage for almost two months, with a massive steel truss draped across its damaged bow.

After the Dali was moved, crews opened a channel that was 50 feet (15 metres) deep and 400 feet (122 metres) wide.

Officials said the full federal shipping channel is 700 feet (213 metres) wide, which means two-way traffic can resume.


They said additional safety requirements have also been lifted because of the increased width.

Maryland Bridge Collapse
Cranes continue salvage work as the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge rests on the container ship Dali (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Thousands of longshoremen, truckers and small business owners have seen their jobs impacted by the collapse, prompting local and state officials to prioritise reopening the port and restoring its traffic to normal capacity in hopes of easing the economic ripple effects.


The announcement on Monday means the commerce that depends on the busy port can begin ramping back up.

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

“I cannot overstate how proud I am of our team,” said colonel Estee Pinchasin, Baltimore district commander for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It was incredible seeing so many people from different parts of our government, from around our country and worldwide, come together in the Unified Command and accomplish so much in this amount of time.”

In a statement on Monday, Ms Pinchasin also acknowledged the loss of the victims’ families.

“Not a day went by that we didn’t think about all of them, 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 investigation found it experienced power outages before starting its voyage, but the exact causes of the electrical issues have yet to be determined.

The FBI is also conducting a criminal investigation into the circumstances leading up to the collapse.

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

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by