Temporary alternate channel to be opened around Baltimore bridge as wreckage clearance underway

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Baltimore’s Captain of the Port (COTP) is preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels, the Key Bridge Response website reported over the Easter weekend.

“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,” said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. “By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore.”

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The temporary channel will be marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet.

The current 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect and is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

The COTP will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM) via VHF-FM marine channel 16. Mariners are requested to monitor the VHF channel 16 for the latest information.

Meanwhile, the Unified Command reported that it has been continuing cutting operations to remove wreckage from the Key Bridge collapse, while three dive teams are surveying sections of the bridge and the M/V Dali for future removal operations.

Demolition crews are cutting portions of the north side of the collapsed bridge truss. Two crane barges, a 650-ton crane and a 330-ton crane, are actively working on scene. The removed wreckage is being lifted and transferred to a barge as daylight allows. A 230-ton land-based crane will offload and process the wreckage at Tradepoint Atlantic. Every lifting operation requires engineering analysis to inform salvage operation plans.

BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) has reduced pressure of the underwater natural gas pipeline to 35psi. The pipeline spans the width of the channel and runs under the incident site. The Unified Command is continuing to coordinate with BGE to inert the pipeline to free it from hazards and risk

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