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Baltimore Shipping Channel Reopening Tentatively Set for Monday

By Dana Munro and Hayes Gardner
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(Baltimore Sun) — The reopening of Baltimore’s 50-foot deep, 700-foot wide shipping channel has been tentatively scheduled for Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak told The Baltimore Sun Saturday afternoon.

While a Sunday reopening was the intention, the channel will need to undergo more dredging Sunday before all ships can pass through safely, which the Coast Guard discovered after receiving new survey results Friday night, Smoak said.

This comes after months of cleaning the channel following the March 26 crash of the Dali cargo ship into the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The bridge collapse sent 50,000 tons of debris into the Patapsco River, blocking off the channel and leading to a drawn-out cleanup effort to divide up and remove steel and roadway pieces from the water.

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A container ship rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md. The ship rammed into the major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing it to collapse in a matter of seconds and creating a terrifying scene as several vehicles plunged into the chilly river below. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

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The original reopening date was planned for around the end of May, but authorities later changed the target to June 8-10.

A narrower, temporary channel was available for large vessels to reach and depart from the Port of Baltimore in recent weeks, but resuming use of the large channel will allow the port to work toward getting back to business as usual before the crash.

About 200 deep-draft vessels, which require the use of Baltimore’s deepest channel, come to the city each month, but the bridge collapse slowed that traffic. Since the start of April, about 150 of those kinds of ships have used the temporary channel to get to the port.

The Dali was moved from the bridge area by tugboats last month to the port’s Seagirt Marine Terminal where crews work to remove debris from the ship before sending it on to Norfolk, Virginia, later this month for further repairs.

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