Baltimore Disaster Spurs Calls for Reset of Infrastructure Priorities

The U.S. Coast Guard has opened two channels to allow repair crafts and salvage barges into Baltimore Harbor. However, it will be weeks before container ships can navigate the span of the Patapsco River now blocked by the Francis Key Bridge, which was knocked down by a 95,000-ton cargo ship in a crash that killed six people on March 26.

“This marks an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,” Coast Guard Capt. David O'Connell, federal on-scene coordinator, said in an April 1 statement.

He said a third 25-foot-deep channel is being plotted to allow “a lot more commercial vessels” to access the nation’s ninth-busiest commercial port, though he did not specify how long the construction will take.

Efforts to clear debris continued on April 1 with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dive teams using sonar to assess the debris field. Crews worked on untangling bridge truss steel from the bow of the Dali, a Singapore-flagged vessel. This Maersk-operated leviathan, stretching the length of three football fields, is capable of hauling 4,700 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) cargo containers. It can carry a maximum weight of 262,000 tons in stacks as high as 20 stories.

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