Baltimore Shipping Channel Reopens After Bridge Tragedy

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The city of Baltimore announced that the shipping lane leading into the Port of Baltimore had been fully reopened, marking the resumption of full-capacity cargo traffic for the first time since the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster in March, The Hill reported.

The catastrophic event, which claimed the lives of six roadway workers, occurred when a large cargo ship collided with the bridge’s central support pylon, causing the entire structure to plummet into the Patapsco River.

“We’ve cleared the Fort McHenry Federal Channel for safe transit,” Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin said in a statement Monday.

“Although the overarching goal to restore full operational capacity to the Federal Channel was successful, each day we thought of those who lost their lives, their families, and the workers impacted by this tragic event,” he continued, CNN reported.

“Not a day went by that we didn’t think about all of them, and that kept us going,” Pinchasin added.

In the past months, the Army Corps of Engineers and numerous recovery teams have led the recovery. Approximately 50,000 tons of debris have been painstakingly removed from the water, ensuring safety and the return of the flow of trade through the port.

Officials reported that 56 federal, state, and local agencies, with about 500 specialists worldwide, used 18 barges, 22 tugboats, 13 floating cranes, ten excavators, and four survey boats in the salvage operations.

The restoration of the channel was expedited as workers promptly created temporary shallow channels to facilitate the passage of smaller vessels shortly after the tragedy.

Surpassing expectations, the complete reopening occurred in just three months, starkly contrasting the initial estimate of six months for the recovery process.

“I cannot overstate how proud I am of our team,” Pinchasin added.

Before the bridge disaster, the Port of Baltimore reigned as the East Coast’s prime destination for automobile shipments, coal, and farm equipment. With the removal of the wreckage and the relocation of the vessel responsible for the bridge collapse, the only remnant of the catastrophe is the absence of the bridge deck.

In response to the devastation, federal and state support swiftly poured in, signaling a commitment to resurrect the fallen bridge. President Joe Biden pledged federal aid towards reconstructing the Interstate 495 bridge encompassing the city, with Maryland authorities envisioning a target completion date of 2028.

The Insurance Information Institute has approximated that the bridge alone may exceed $1.2 billion.

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