Francis Scott Key collapse: Fourth temporary channel opens

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 25: Salvage crews continue to remove wreckage from the cargo ship Dali after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 25, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Four weeks since the maritime accident in the Patapsco River, a temporary channel opens today to allow ships stuck in the Port of Baltimore to leave. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE — A fourth channel for commercial traffic out of Baltimore’s port has been opened near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge.

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The new channel is called the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel, according to officials with the Key Bridge Response 2024. It is expected to allow additional access to commercially essential traffic.

It will be about 35 feet deep, according to The Associated Press. The new channel also puts the cleanup effort just a bit ahead of schedule, officials said.

The fourth channel is the largest one, according to WMAR. However, it is only temporary. It will allow ships stuck in the Port of Baltimore to move out.

The Coast Guard said that the channel will be closed either on Monday or Tuesday, according to the news station. It will stay closed until around May 10 so that debris can be cleared.

“As part of removing the Dali, and continuing to work as fast as possible, and safely, we’re going to suspend vessel transits through that new channel for roughly 10 days or so. That will allow us to safely conduct the rigging we need to do on that large piece of bridge that’s still on board the bow of the Dali,” U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said earlier this week, according to WMAR.

“We’re working to strike a balance between enabling temporary access to support commercial activity and undertaking necessary measures to fully reopen the Fort McHenry Channel,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, Captain of the Port and Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024.

“This limited access deep draft channel will provide a window for five of the deep draft vessels currently unable to depart the port as well as some smaller deep draft vessels to transit. Meanwhile, the Unified Command personnel continue to work full speed ahead to safely and efficiently finish operations.”

The hope is to get the track open to normal capacity by the end of May, WMAR reported. A permanent channel will be made that will be about 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep.

“We are going to work efficiently and we are going to work safely and we are not going to choose between the two,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said during the news conference, according to the AP.

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