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Authorities Set to Build Temporary Alternate Channel for Essential Ships at Baltimore Port

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Baltimore Bridge
Source: Reddit

Six days following the devastating collision between a container ship and the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, authorities are taking steps to establish a temporary alternate channel, facilitating the passage of “commercially essential” vessels through one of the nation’s busiest ports.

According to Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, the proposed 11-foot-deep temporary route will feature marked lighting, marking a pivotal phase toward reopening the main channel.

O’Connell, leading a Unified Command composed of various agencies, emphasized the continued implementation of a 2,000-yard safety zone around the bridge to ensure the protection of salvage workers, vessels, and the marine environment.

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“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the Port of Baltimore,” stated O’Connell, underlining the significance of the alternate route in accommodating marine traffic. Entry into the safety zone will be strictly regulated, with ships and individuals requiring permission from port authorities.

ALSO READ: Maryland Governor Urges Congress to Pass Funding for Baltimore Bridge Rebuild

The container ship Dali, laden with thousands of containers, collided with the bridge, triggering a mayday call just moments before the catastrophic incident.

The timely warning allowed authorities to halt traffic, averting further disaster as the bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River, claiming the lives of six workers. Despite recovery efforts, two fatalities have been confirmed, with four individuals believed to be trapped underwater amid the wreckage.

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Authorities are racing against time to clear the Port of Baltimore, obstructed by debris from the 1.6-mile-long bridge and the stricken Dali. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore highlighted the port’s critical role in handling vehicular traffic and agricultural equipment, emphasizing the absence of a clear timetable for debris removal.

“We have a ship that is nearly the size of the Eiffel Tower that is now stuck within the channel that has the Key Bridge sitting on top of it,” Governor Moore articulated, underscoring the magnitude of the situation during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Focus on Ship Stabilization

Key objectives for the Army Corps of Engineers include preventing the rotation of the vessel lodged beneath the Francis Scott Key Bridge and relocating it from the wreckage. Plans to stabilize the Dali involve the deployment of anchors and tugboats alongside continuous assessments of the bridge’s structural integrity.

Additionally, heavy lift cranes, capable of handling loads up to 1,000 tons, will be strategically positioned to lift a 4,000-ton section obstructing the vessel. Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon of the Army Corps of Engineers disclosed plans to segment the bridge’s collapsed truss structure before extraction.

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Moreover, the cargo aboard the Dali will undergo evaluation, with potential removal to facilitate the vessel’s refloating and relocation from its current “hard grounding.”

Bridge Reconstruction and Environmental Considerations

Despite the successful removal of a 200-ton section of bridge debris, substantial cleanup efforts remain as thousands of tons of wreckage continue to impede navigation in the Patapsco River. The estimated cost and timeline for bridge reconstruction hinge upon a comprehensive assessment of underwater damage.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mobilized technical specialists to mitigate environmental repercussions stemming from the collapse.

Collaborating with the Coast Guard and other agencies, the EPA aims to minimize environmental hazards by evaluating hazardous cargo on the Dali and implementing containment measures for impacted products.

ALSO READ: David Simon Calls Marjorie Taylor Greene “Submoronic” for Her Baltimore Bridge Claims

As recovery efforts persist, the community mourns the loss of the victims. A prayer service held in remembrance at Sacred Heart of Jesus underscores the solidarity and support extended to affected families, emphasizing the resilience and unity of Baltimore’s diverse communities.

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