USACE Says Port of Baltimore Will Open on a Limited Basis in Four Weeks

( – Ships could start docking in Baltimore as soon as three weeks from now, according to military engineers. Right now, the shipping channel is blocked by the wreckage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key bridge. Engineers from the US Army and Navy are working to clear it, though, and hope to have a limited channel open soon.

On March 26, a container ship collided with the 1.6-mile bridge across the Patapsco River near Baltimore, bringing the main span down and killing six maintenance workers. The wrecked bridge is currently blocking all shipping access to the Port of Baltimore, one of the busiest commercial ports in the US. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and US Navy are leading the salvage operation with the help of seven crane barges, including the largest floating crane on the East Coast. While attention has focused on efforts to find the bodies of the three victims still missing, the engineers also hope to get the port back in operation, because its closure affects 8,000 American workers and costs $15 million a day in lost business.

On April 4, USACE Baltimore District released a statement saying it hopes to have a limited channel to the port open by the end of April. This channel will be 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, allowing container barges and some roll-on/roll-off freighters to get in and out of the port. However, it won’t be wide enough for two-way traffic, and will have to switch between inbound and outbound.

The ultimate goal is to fully open the federal navigation channel, which is 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep. That will put the port back into full operation, but it involves clearing thousands of tons of wreckage. USACE hopes to have that done by the end of May.

Officials also hope to “locate and recover” the bodies of the missing road workers.

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