Port of Baltimore reopens for cargo ships as bridge debris is fully removed

BALTIMORE – The primary shipping lane to the Port of Baltimore was fully cleared of debris this week, marking a full recovery for maritime transit after a commercial ship lost power and destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge nearly three months ago.

On March 26, the Dali container ship crashed into one of the bridge’s support beams, destroying it and ending the lives of six construction workers who were filling potholes on the road above. The Fort McHenry water channel was completely blocked as a result, leading to the complete closure of the Port of Baltimore and hurting the state’s economy.

Now, the channel has been restored to its original dimensions of 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep, allowing for a resuming of cargo ship transport.

“This has been a remarkably complex operation, spanning thousands of people, hundreds of assets and multiple objectives,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement. “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.”

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, which oversaw the cleanup, 50,000 tons of wreckage had to be removed from the water. Nearly 60 agencies were involved in the cleanup, along with 18 barges, 22 tugboats, 13 cranes, 10 excavators and four survey boats.

The Port of Baltimore is a small port compared with the nation’s biggest, but it has dominance over certain imported and export product. In 2023, the port ranked first in the nation for handling automobiles, light trucks, farm and construction equipment, as well as imported sugar and gypsum. Top imports were cars and light trucks, salt, paper/paperboard, gypsum and plywood/veneer/particleboard, according to the government site. Top exports were coal, liquefied natural gas, wastepaper, ferrous scrap and cars/light trucks.

Plywood veneer is notable for the furniture and woodworking industries. In January this year, the port moved more than 62,000 container tons of forest product, according to the government site. That’s the largest amount moved since August 2023.

Rebuilding the bridge hasn’t begun yet, but the Maryland Transportation Authority said it remains a “top priority.” The bridge was a major traffic route in the region, with around 30,000 vehicles crossing it daily. It’s estimated to cost $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion to rebuild the bridge, with completion estimated for 2028.

See also:

  • Plywood veneer imports could feel impact of Baltimore bridge collapse
  • FBI boards downed ship at Baltimore bridge collapse site as four bodies are uncovered

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