Port of Baltimore to Open With Limited Access by End of April: USACE

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
April 5, 2024US News
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Port of Baltimore to Open With Limited Access by End of April: USACE
A barge uses the temporary channel set up after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed closing the main shipping lane, in Baltimore, Md., on April 4, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The channel entering the Port of Baltimore in Maryland may be partially open with “limited access” for vessel traffic by the end of the month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has said.

In an April 4 press release, the Corps said it expects to open a “limited access channel” 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep by the end of April. The channel would “support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container service and some roll-on/roll-off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.”

The USACE aims to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, thus “restoring port access to normal capacity,” according to the Corps.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the unified command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, the USACE commanding general, in a statement.

“A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority,” he added.

He noted the timelines for reopening the channels are “ambitious” and could be impacted by significant adverse weather conditions or changes in the complexity of the wreckage.

Commenting on the planned reopening in an April 4 statement, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said some of the “best engineering minds in the world and our most important resources” had been made available as part of those efforts.

“While this timeline is ambitious and dependent on a number of factors, setting this goal is critically important for those families that are still waiting to bring loved ones home and the thousands of Baltimoreans and Marylanders who rely on the Port,” Mr. Scott said.

“This timeline makes our mission to support the workers and businesses impacted in the interim all that much more important, to ensure they get what’s needed between now and the channels opening,” he added.

Cargo Ship Owners Seek to Limit Liability

Vessel traffic to and from the Port of Baltimore has been suspended following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. The incident occurred when Dali, a 984-foot-long cargo vessel flagged by Singapore, lost power and hit one of the piers, causing major sections of the 1.6-mile-long steel truss bridge to collapse into the Patapsco River.

Six construction workers filling potholes on the bridge at the time were killed in the accident, although search teams are still trying to locate the bodies of four who are missing.

The 95,000 gross-ton container ship sustained damage during the incident, but none of the 23 individuals onboard, including 21 crew members and two pilots, sustained significant injuries.

The owner and manager of the cargo ship—Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd and Synergy Marine Pte Ltd., also based in Singapore—have since filed a court petition seeking to limit their legal liability for the disaster to around $43.6 million.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the most active ports in the United States based on total tonnage, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Officials say its closure could potentially cost the area’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

President Joe Biden is expected to visit the site of the collapsed bridge when he arrives in Baltimore on April 5.

From The Epoch Times

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