Baltimore Channel to Partially Reopen by End of April

The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that it expected to restore navigation to and from the Port of Baltimore by the end of the month, the Associated Press reported.

In an April 4 press release announcing a “tentative timeline” to clear the wreckage from last month’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the USACE said it expected to have a 35-foot deep limited-access channel opened before the end of the month.

The 280-foot wide channel would allow single-lane access in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container vessels and some vessels transporting farm equipment and automobiles.

The USACE said it aimed to reopen the permanent federal navigation channel and restore “port access to normal capacity by the end of May.”

Commanding general Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon said reopening the federal navigation channel remained the “primary goal” and the work would be carried out “with care and precision,” keeping safety as the “chief priority.”

Lt. Gen. Spellmon said the USACE’s “ambitious” timeline could be delayed due to weather or “changes in the complexity of the wreckage.”

In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on April 6, Maryland Governor Wes Moore described the timeline as “realistic” but said that it would take a 24/7 effort to ensure that the federal navigation channel was fully functioning by the end of next month.

Moore said that he was “amazed” at how much work had already been accomplished in the first two weeks.

According to the governor, hundreds of tons of metal and debris weighing as much as the Statue of Liberty had already been cleared from the river. However, he said more would need to be done to restore the region’s economy.

Isabella Casillas Guzman, the head of the US Small Business Administration met with business owners and local officials in Baltimore on April 4. She said 500 area businesses had already applied for a federal small business loan program for those impacted by the bridge collapse.

Last Tuesday, Governor Moore signed the PORT Act, authorizing the state to use its rainy day fund to assist port workers who lost their jobs due to the bridge collapse.