Baltimore shipping channel reopens after bridge collapse

The Baltimore bridge collapse.

The main shipping channel to the Port of Baltimore has been reopened 11 weeks after a cargo ship lost power and struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

US Army Corps of Engineers fully cleared the site of debris that had been blocking the Fort McHenry Channel since 26 March when the container ship Dali crashed into one of the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s support piers, knocking it over and killing six construction workers who were filling potholes on the roadway.

The channel was restored this week to its original operational dimensions of 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep for cargo ships through the port.

The Dali was lodged in the ship channel for nearly two months, along with 50,000 tonnes of debris from the bridge that was part of Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River.

On 20 May the ship was removed from the site of the bridge collapse.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was also a major freight route for heavy vehicles.

Federal authorities estimate replacing the bridge will cost $USD1.7 billion to $USD1.9 billion.

“This has been a remarkably complex operation, spanning thousands of people, hundreds of assets and multiple objectives,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore said in a statement.

“With the channel now fully open, we can get more Marylanders back to work at the Port of Baltimore, increase the flow of commerce through the city and accelerate our economic recovery.”

In May, federal investigators released a report that said the ship went through multiple power failures before colliding with the bridge.

Considered the deepest harbour in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Baltimore is with five public and 12 private terminals.

It handled over $80 billion worth of cargo in 2023. It serves more than 50 ocean carriers making nearly 1,800 annual port calls.

Officials for brokerage giant C.H. Robinson said it could take several weeks for maritime traffic to ramp up at the Port of Baltimore.

In 2003 the Port of Baltimore was the main setting for the second season of the popular HBO TV series The Wire.

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