Temporary channel opening soon at Baltimore harbor

  • Market: Agriculture, Coal, Fertilizers, Freight, Metals
  • 01/04/24

Authorities at the site of the collapsed bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, are preparing to open a temporary alternate channel for "commercially essential" vessels to pass through the blocked waterway.

The 11-ft deep, 264-ft wide channel will be to the north of the containership Dali, which struck the bridge early on 26 March when it lost power, leading to its deadly collapse, according to the federal Unified Command handling the accident response. While the channel would be deep enough for some types of cargo-laden barges, it will most likely be used for smaller craft and those taking part in salvage operations.

"This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore," said David O'Connell, the federal on-scene coordinator. "By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore."

While no official timetable to reopen the port to regular traffic has been given so far, experts say it could take many weeks to months.

The Frances Scott Key Bridge was closed to vehicle traffic shortly before it collapsed when crew members on the Dali warned local authorities of the impending collision, but six construction workers on the bridge at the time are presumed dead.

Demolition crews began removing sections of the collapsed bridge over the weekend. The bridge's north section is being cut into smaller parts that can be removed by barge-mounted cranes. A roughly 4,000-ton section of the bridge, which rests on top of the ship, will also need to be removed before the vessel can be moved.

The port is the busiest in the US for automobile shipments and carmakers are adjusting supply routes for what is likely to be a lengthy closure. Coal exporters are expected to shift to terminals south in Hampton Roads, Virginia, while other commodities such as asphalt and caustic soda that move through the port may also face challenges.


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