Shipping channel fully reopens two months after Key Bridge collapse

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Shipping channel fully reopens two months after Key Bridge collapse

The channel that allows access to the Port of Baltimore has been fully cleared following nearly 11 weeks of cleanup from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

The full 700-feet-wide and 50-feet-deep Fort McHenry Channel was reopened Monday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“One of our four key directives in the wake of the Key Bridge collapse has been to fully clear the federal channel. Today, we bring that directive to completion. By working together, we turned months into weeks – and bounced back faster than many could have ever anticipated,” Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement.

Portions of the Maryland passageway have been shut down since a cargo ship crashed into the bridge on March 26, killing six construction workers and throwing a wrench in the global supply chain.

More Key Bridge Collapse News

“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. But our work is not over until we rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” Moore said in a statement.

The announcement comes after months of painstaking work to clear the channel, with crews recently using specialized cranes to pull out 500-ton pieces of the bridge out of the Patapsco River.

Overall, about 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage had to be removed from the Patapsco River.

Just hours before the announcement that the channel had been fully cleared, Col. Estee Pinchasin, the Baltimore District Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, joined WTOP to give an update on the effort. She described how crews were still pulling up pieces of steel from very deep below the surface. Just on Friday, crews pulled up an “enormous piece” of the four-lane highway road bed that had been turned into a “this big mangled mess” buried below the mud line.

Col. Estee Pinchasin, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, discussed the final stages of the massive clean-up effort on WTOP

Thousands of employees work at the Port of Baltimore, which is a major shipping channel. Many of those people were put out of a job when the bridge collapsed, and cargo was rerouted to other ports.

Earlier in the cleanup effort, crews set off a chain of carefully placed explosives to bring down a large section of the bridge, and the Dali container ship was successfully refloated on May 20.

The cleared channel is a major victory for officials hoping to reopen the port. But the recovery from the collapse is far from over. It could be years before the bridge is rebuilt, with Maryland officials estimating the new span will be finished by fall of 2028.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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