Dali cargo ship passes beneath Chesapeake Bay Bridge on its way to Norfolk

Dali passes beneath Bay Bridge on its way to Norfolk

Traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was temporarily suspended late Monday morning as the Dali — a cargo ship that collided with Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, leading to its collapse nearly three months ago — made its journey to port in Norfolk, Virginia.

Traffic on the bridge was held for about 30 minutes, reopening just before 11:30 a.m., according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The authority said that traffic was held “out of an abundance of caution,” as the 984-foot marine vessel Dali passed beneath.

Officials said the decision was made “in consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard” and that four tug boats are accompanying the Dali to provide anchoring support on its way to Norfolk. The Coast Guard is overseeing providing a 500-yard safety zone around the cargo ship during its trip.

For the last month, the Dali has been docked at Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal as it awaited approval for relocation and repairs in Norfolk.

The container ship started moving shortly before 8:30 a.m. with four tugboats.

The Dali is scheduled to go directly to Virginia International Gateway to have roughly 1,500 cargo containers off-loaded to reduce draft, the Coast Guard said. The vessel is then scheduled to travel further to Norfolk International Terminal, where it is scheduled to undergo continued salvage and repairs from damage caused during the bridge collapse.

The Dali left the Port of Baltimore and drove past the site of the former Key Bridge after 9 a.m. WTOP’s Luke Lukert said the ship was “moving a lot quicker” than when tugboats escorted the ship back to port in mid-May.

The 170-mile journey to Norfolk is expected to take between 16 and 20 hours.

On March 26, the Dali had crashed into, and effectively destroyed, Baltimore’s Key Bridge after the vessel lost power and veered off course. Six construction workers on the bridge were killed in the crash, and it is predicted that reconstruction of the bridge will take years, costing billions for Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the ship experienced two power outages in the hours before it left the Port of Baltimore. In the moments before the bridge collapsed, it lost power again and veered off course. The agency is still investigating what caused the electrical failures.

The FBI also launched a criminal investigation.

Last week, under an agreement confirmed by a federal judge, members of the Dali’s crew were allowed to head home. None of the crew members had been able to leave the U.S. since the crash. Under the agreement, the crew members can return home but must be available for depositions.

Regarding Monday’s trip past the Bay Bridge, WTOP’s Dave Dildine said, with so much attention, it was “probably a good idea that traffic will be held, so drivers won’t be tempted to slow down, watch and take their eyes off the road.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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