Second channel opens at Baltimore bridge collapse site, allows vessels to bypass wreckage

Work crews opened a second temporary channel in the Patapsco River on Tuesday, allowing larger ships into the Port of Baltimore for the first time since the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed last week.

The Key Bridge collapse has shuttered the port, throwing East Coast logistics into chaos. Crews are continuing work on constructing a third, larger channel in order to enable large ships into the port.

The small channels will be mostly used by vessels involved in the cleanup effort and small ships stuck in the harbor. The first ship into the port through the first temporary channel Monday was a tugboat pushing a fuel barge, with cargo bound for Dover Air Force Base.

Massive cranes have moved steel wreckage out of the river, clearing the way for the small temporary channels, 11 and 14 feet deep, respectively. The main channel under the bridge was 50 feet deep, with most large cargo ships requiring at least 35 feet of clearance.

Rough weather has delayed the bridge salvage operation and efforts to recover the bodies of the four people who remain missing after the bridge collapse. The massive cargo ship MV Dali struck one of the bridge’s support columns in the early hours of the night, collapsing the entire steel structure.

“We promised these families that we would do everything in our power to bring them closure, but also my directive is to complete this mission with no injuries and no casualties,” Gov. Wes Moore (D-Md.) said at a press conference Tuesday.

Fights over the bridge have moved to Annapolis and Washington, as politicians debate how to fund the cleanup and reconstruction effort. The Biden administration has pledged to use federal funds to pay for everything, but the multi-billion price tag would require approval from Congress.

The Maryland legislature is expected to greenlight funds for the cleanup operation on Wednesday, after a bill cleared committee earlier Tuesday.

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