Baltimore shipping channel fully reopens after Key Bridge collapse

Over 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage were cleared from the river.

June 10, 2024, 7:32 PM

The Baltimore shipping channel where the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed has fully reopened following the catastrophic collision in March, authorities said Monday.

The Fort McHenry Federal Channel has been restored to its original operational dimensions for commercial maritime transit through the Port of Baltimore, one of America's busiest ports, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

The Dali, a massive cargo ship, struck the Key Bridge on March 26, triggering a collapse that killed six workers and affected entry into the port.

In the weeks since, the channel has gradually opened to traffic as crews worked to clear 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage and remove the 984-foot-long and 158-foot-wide container ship from the crash site.

PHOTO: The Chesapeake 1000 (“Chessy”) floating crane equipped with “Gus” the hydraulic grabber, wrestle a 90-ton piece of residual wreckage Friday morning, June 7, 2024, from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel.
The Chesapeake 1000 (“Chessy”) floating crane equipped with “Gus” the hydraulic grabber, wrestle a 90-ton piece of residual wreckage Friday morning, June 7, 2024, from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel.
Bobby Petty/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District

On Monday, the riverbed was certified as safe for transit and the channel reached its full operational dimensions of 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

"We are proud of the unified efforts that fully reopened the Federal Channel to port operations," Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said in a statement. "The partnerships that endured through this response made this pivotal mission successful."

The incident remains under investigation.

According to a preliminary report released last month by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Dali experienced two power blackouts while docked, 10 hours before the collision that toppled part of a bridge span. After leaving the port in the early morning hours of March 26, it experienced two more blackouts close to 1:28 a.m., which is the time it collided with the bridge, according to the NTSB.

PHOTO: Unified Command’s ongoing salvage work in the Fort McHenry Federal Channel nears its conclusion, as shown in these aerial photos taken June 7, 2024.
Unified Command’s ongoing salvage work in the Fort McHenry Federal Channel nears its conclusion, as shown in these aerial photos taken June 7, 2024. Courtesy of Maryland State Police Aviation Command, salvors continue pulling massive, mangled chunks of Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage from the watery depths of the Patapsco River.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District

Federal investigators said that fuel tests did not show any irregularities and they are now focusing their probe on the ship's electrical system.

The bridge's reconstruction is expected to cost between $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion and last through 2028 at the earliest, transportation officials said last month.

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