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Port of Baltimore fully reopened after $100M cleanup of collapsed bridge

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The Port of Baltimore was fully reopened this week after a $100 million cleanup effort. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being struck by a barge with alleged electrical problems back in March of this year. The bridge collapse forced the closure of both the ship channel into the Port of Baltimore, and the bridge itself. Now, the Port of Baltimore has been fully reopened and commercial shipping traffic is expected to return to pre-collapse levels. 

“They are back open for business, ready to bring in the largest container ships that call there,” U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said during a virtual press briefing on Tuesday. The full reopening was announced on Wednesday, June 12th. 

Crews worked to fish approximately 50,000 tons of steel and concrete from the collapsed bridge out of the Patapsco River in a project that cost around $100 million and included federal, state, and local agencies, reported CBS.

Even as the channel reopens, the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the channel, which carried around 3,600 commercial trucks a day prior to its collapse, has yet to be repaired. Salvage operations are estimated to cost $75 million, and rebuilding the bridge may cost as much as $2 billion, with hopeful estimates citing 2028 as the completion date. There is still no official design decision for the rebuilding of the bridge. 

“While the exact nature of the approach for the bridge is still under development, we strive for a new bridge that will accommodate the needs of the port and provide enhanced protection for the new bridge pier foundation,” Brian Wolfe, the Director of Project Development at Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), said. “We anticipate a bridge that will be built largely in the same location, staying within existing MDTA property, and will provide a four-lane roadway.”

The MDTA has stated that bridge design proposals are due by Monday, June 24th, a project team will be selected by late summer 2024, and the project will be completed by the fall of 2028. 

The  Maryland Motor Truck Association is lobbying Congress to pass the Baltimore Bridge Relief Act, which would authorize a higher federal relief amount for the rebuilding of the bridge “and for other purposes.”

“We really have to look as at freight comes back to addressing those logistical challenges that we’ll be facing, until we have a new bridge,” said Louis Campion, President of the Maryland Motor Trucking Association. We have to focus on getting that bridge rebuilt so that we can keep moving commerce, you know, efficiently, not just in Maryland, but along the entire eastern seaboard.”

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