Key Bridge collapse: Port channel reopening on target, governor says

A temporary shipping channel is expected to reopen at a greater depth to commercial vessel traffic at the Port of Baltimore around May 10, as salvage crews continue to work to free the Dali freighter from the wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge, officials said Tuesday.

The Dali struck a key support pillar of the bridge March 26, sending it plummeting into the Patapsco River and killing six construction workers who had been repairing potholes on the span.

Since then, the mammoth cargo ship has remained aground and trapped under a massive chunk of the bridge as crews strive to restore at least some shipping traffic to one of the East Coast’s busiest ports.

The temporary Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel that crews hope to reopen in a week and a half with a depth of 45 feet had opened temporarily for four days with 38 feet of bottom clearance. Before closing as expected Monday morning, five ships that had been stranded in Baltimore were able to escape, while the first container ship to call the port since the accident arrived and departed.

In total, during the four-day window, 19 vessels sailed through, including nine arrivals and 10 departures, carrying sugar, cement, fertilizer, lumber and other goods, and providing work for nearly 200 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Gov. Wes Moore said Tuesday during a news conference.

“That’s an important milestone,” Moore said. But, he added, “it’s a temporary solution. We cannot take our eyes off the ball. The focus is making sure that we are going to open the 50-foot channel, and we will.”

But to restore the port to its full capacity and rebuild the bridge, Moore said, the state needs the support of Congress. To that end, he said he has visited Capitol Hill and, later this week, will host the “entire” House Committee on Appropriations.

“We’ve already had members of Congress … from Florida to Washington state show up to see the wreckage,” he said.

Moore and other officials said they continue to search for the bodies of two construction workers, Miguel Luna and José Mynor López, who remain missing. Previously, crews recovered the bodies of their co-workers, Dorlian Castillo Cabrera, Maynor Suazo Sandoval,  Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes and Carlos Daniel Hernández.

“We’re still looking for two missing workers — two unaccounted-for souls — and that search for them has not changed,” the Democratic governor said. “We’re still working closely with the families of the victims, and that has not changed.”

Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., the Maryland State Police secretary, said sonar images and mapping techniques have helped give divers a general area where the men’s bodies might be found.

“It’s very poor visibility down there. There’s so much debris,” Butler said. “We believe we have areas of interest. We’re unable to access those areas of interest.”

Divers and salvage crews have been communicating about “what they’re seeing, where they’re locating things” and developing plans on where to search once an area has been determined safe, he said.

Moore said a minimum of 25 divers, 10 from the state police’s underwater recovery team, are available on any given day to fulfill the state’s commitment to bring closure to the families of the victims.

Related Articles

Business |


Musk firing Tesla Supercharger team undercuts Biden’s ‘big deal’ for EVs

Business |


Fed says interest rates will stay at 2-decade high until inflation cools further

Business |


What marijuana reclassification means for the United States

Business |


Mayor Bass returning to an LA focused on UCLA protests, violence after 3 days in Washington, D.C.

Business |


California’s population growth: ‘We’re back!’

Noting that Tuesday marked five weeks since the “unthinkable tragedy,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said the city and state are continuing efforts to make resources available to both the families of those killed in the bridge collapse and workers and businesses who have been affected by the resulting slowdown in port traffic.

A fund organized by Baltimore’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has raised more than $750,000 for the victims’ families, he said.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to free the Dali.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the Port of Baltimore said the vessel is expected to be removed by May 10.

But at the media briefing, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said: “I can’t give you an exact date of when the Dali is going to be removed because there’s a lot of factors that play into that. Both the engineering the salvage operations themselves and weather and so we’re going to continue to move to do this safely and as fast as possible.”

So far 182 containers have been removed from the ship, and the next step is “remarkably complicated,” removing a piece of steel the size of the Eiffel Tower, Moore said.

According to Gilreath, crews will use a precision cutting technique to break down the massive piece of wreckage draped across the Dali’s bow.

“We are able to institute all those cuts simultaneously,” he said, “so that they’re not trying to cut something and then something from another section collapses.”

Crews have been using a hydraulic grabber to clear debris from the harbor’s main shipping channel, which is 50 feet deep and 600 feet wide. The “Gus” hydraulic grabber has a capacity to lift 1,000 tons in a single pull from the water, Moore said. More than 3,300 tons of debris have been pulled from the water so far, he said.

There’s an estimated 50,000 tons of wreckage — steel and concrete — along the bridge’s former path.

So far, more than 200 vessels have come through the four alternate channels that have been opened, Moore said.

When it opens, the new 45-foot channel is expected to be open overnight daily from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Officials have said the goal is to fully open the main channel by the end of May.

Salvage efforts continue as workers make preparations to remove the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge from the container ship Dali five weeks after the catastrophic collapse. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Crane barges surround the contianer ship Dali and wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as salvage efforts continue five weeks after the catastrophic collapse. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

An Osprey perches on the twisted rebar of one of the destoryed Francis Scott Key Bridge support structures. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Crane barges surround the remaining support pier of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site as salvage efforts continue. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Crane barges surround the contianer ship Dali and wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as salvage efforts continue five weeks after the catastrophic collapse. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

A massive claw nicknamed Gus is used to grab huge pieces of debris at the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

A massive claw nicknamed Gus is used to grab huge pieces of debris at the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Salvage experts work hign in the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the bow of the container ship Dali Tuesday afternoon. Preparations are underway to remove the bridge structure from the ship. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

The Pride of Baltimore II travels past the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site Tuesday afternoon on her way into port. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Salvage efforts continue as workers make preparations to remove the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge from the container ship Dali five weeks after the catastrophic collapse. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

of

Expand

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *