Engineers Aim to Restore Port of Baltimore Navigation by Late April After Bridge Collapse

Engineers working to clear the wreckage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore said on Thursday that they expect to be able to restore navigation in and out of the Port of Baltimore by the end of this month.

The bridge collapsed within seconds on March 26 after being struck by the cargo ship Dali, which had lost power shortly after departing Baltimore bound for Sri Lanka. The dramatic incident resulted in a tragic loss of life, with authorities believing six roadwork crew members fell to their deaths in the Patapsco River, though only two bodies have been recovered so far.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to open a limited 280-foot wide by 35-foot deep access channel to the port within four weeks. This would allow one-way traffic of barges, auto carriers, and farm equipment vessels. Their goal is to then fully reopen the permanent 700-foot wide, 50-foot deep federal navigation channel by late May to restore full port capacity.

However, the Corps acknowledged these “ambitious” timelines could be impacted by weather or increased wreckage complexity. The collapsed bridge has already created widespread logistical challenges and economic impacts, with over 500 businesses applying for federal disaster loans so far.

As salvage efforts continue in extremely difficult dive conditions, President Biden is scheduled to visit the site on Friday and receive operational updates. State officials have also authorized using rainy day funds to support unemployed port workers during the disruption.