Federal channel for Port of Baltimore fully restored

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Federal channel for Port of Baltimore fully restored

The Fort McHenry Federal Channel, which was blocked after a cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore causing its collapse, has reopened to full operation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving removed approximately 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage from the Patapsco River.

“We’ve cleared the Fort McHenry Federal Channel for safe transit,” Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin said in a statement Monday. “Although the overarching goal to restore full operational capacity to the Federal Channel was successful, each day we thought of those who lost their lives, their families, and the workers impacted by this tragic event.”

Six construction workers who were on the bridge at the moment of the collapse lost their lives. 

The ship that caused the tragedy, the Dali, was safely moved on May 20, which allowed the Limited Access Channel to be widened to 400 feet by May 21. This allowed all pre-collapse, deep-draft commercial vessels to transit through the Port of Baltimore.

The channel’s full restoration now permits two-way traffic and eliminates the additional safety requirements that were previously implemented due to the reduced channel width.

“I cannot overstate how proud I am of our team. It was incredible seeing so many people from different parts of our government, from around our country and all over the world, come together in the Unified Command and accomplish so much in this amount of time,” said Estee Pinchasin.

The work to remove all the wreckage included more than 2,000 people and subject matter experts, nearly two dozen tugboats, 13 floating cranes, and 10 excavators, among other equipment.

The closing of the channel became a big concern for the region's economy, putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs, according to officials. 

Rebuilding the bridge is a stated priority, with President Biden stating that he will allocate federal support for the cause. Even though the cost of rebuilding is not clear, the Insurance Information Institute has estimated the bridge alone could be worth more than $1.2 billion.

Related articles: Rescue efforts underway after cargo ship crash causes Baltimore bridge collapse

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