Main channel in Port of Baltimore expected to be open by end of May

Updated Apr 6, 2024
Officials survey collapsed bridge at the Port of Baltimore

A temporary channel to access the Port of Baltimore is expected to be opened by the end of this month, and the permanent channel reopened to navigation by the end of May, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

The corps said it continues working with local, state and federal partners to clear the wreckage along the Fort McHenry Channel following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The bridge crashed into the Patapsco River March 26 when a huge container ship lost power and slammed into one of the bridge's supports. Six workers on the bridge at the time died; the bodies of two of them have been recovered while four remain missing.

After detailed studies and engineering assessments by local, state and federal organizations, in collaboration with industry partners, USACE expects to open a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, to the Port of Baltimore within the next four weeks. This channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.

USACE engineers say they expect to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the unified command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, USACE commanding general. “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.”

“These are ambitious timelines that may still be impacted by significant adverse weather conditions or changes in the complexity of the wreckage,” Spellmon said. “We are working quickly and safely to clear the channel and restore full service at this port that is so vital to the nation. At the same time, we continue to keep faith with the families of the missing and are working with our partners to help locate and recover their loved ones.”

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers
The ALL NEW Rand Tablet
Presented by Rand McNally

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth busiest port in the U.S. and the busiest for vehicle shipments. The port handled more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023. It also is a key port for receiving farm equipment, lumber and coal.