Baltimore shipping channel fully reopens after bridge collapse

11 June 2024, 05:04

Maryland Bridge Collapse
Maryland Bridge Collapse. Picture: PA

The full reopening was announced on Monday.

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.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

United Nations Yemen

UN and aid groups urge release of 17 staffers held by Yemen’s rebels

Vehicles pass the Tesla gigafactory in Austin, Texas

Tesla shareholders vote to restore Elon Musk’s pay package

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, shake hands after signing a security agreement on the sidelines of the G7 in Savelletri, Italy

US President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky sign security deal

G7 leaders at the summit in southern Italy

G7 summit opens with deal to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington

Donald Trump returns to Capitol Hill and whips up Republican legislators

US President Joe Biden participates in a working session with world leaders during a G7 summit at Borgo Egnazia, Italy

Biden says no Gaza ceasefire deal soon, as mediators work to bridge gaps

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich waves and smiles as he stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, on April 23 2024

US reporter Evan Gershkovich, held in Russia on espionage charges, to face trial

This image provided by Tamatha Bibbo, principal of the Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts, shows 23 sets of twins who graduated from Pollard Middle School

Double take: 23 sets of twins graduate from single Massachusetts middle school

Elephant Bubi kicks the ball towards the goal in Starkenberg, Germany

Bubi the elephant predicts Germany to win Euro 2024 opener against Scotland

Russia’s Kazan nuclear-powered submarine arrives at the port of Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday

US submarine pulls into Guantanamo Bay day after Russian warships arrive in Cuba

The 'Happy Days' actor shared a grinning selfie with Dublin Fire Brigade

Happy Days for The Fonz: Henry Winkler thanks firefighters after blaze at Dublin hotel

Rishi Sunak with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni

Rishi Sunak receives warm welcome at G7 summit as he reunites with Italian PM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walks past various international flags on arrival at the G7 in Borgo Egnazia, Italy

How will move to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets work?

A tourist fans a companion in front of the the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens

Heatwave forces Greek authorities to shut Acropolis in afternoon for second day

Bulgarian former prime minister Boyko Borissov, leader of the centre-right GERB party

Bulgarian ex-premier Borissov offers coalition but does not want job again

A Polish soldier patrols the border with Belarus

Poland reintroduces restrictions along Belarus border due to migration pressures