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Baltimore Port resumes traffic with temporary passageway

Baltimore officials have presented a temporary passageway to partially reestablish traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore, one of the nation's busiest commercial shipping lanes.

Baltimore Port resumes traffic with temporary passageway

The alternative route will provide a detour around the wreckage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which blocked the port's main channel after it was hit by a massive cargo ship last week.

News of the temporary channel was announced by the state on March 31 and then officially approved at a press conference on the afternoon of April 1. Maryland Governor Wes Moore said, "Today was an important milestone in the process of beginning to pull back the debris, to open the channels. We know we still have more work to do."

Some of the stranded barges and tugs will be able to pass through the channel on the evening of April 1, according to Shannon Gilreath, Deputy Lieutenant General of the EU Coast Guard Fleet. The new 3.5-meter-deep lane, however, will only be able to take a small fraction of the typical port traffic.

Lieutenant General Gilreath indicated that the authorities were considering a second alternative channel across the bridge. This channel, which would be "approximately 4 to 5 meters" deep and would allow the passage of slightly larger ships, he added.

The third alternative channel, 6 to 7 meters deep, will be launched, depending on the results of the ongoing arduous task of clearing large amounts of debris from the collapsed bridge, officials indicated.

Lieutenant General Gilreath said, "Once the channel is open, this will give us the ability to resume almost all tugboats and barges from the Port of Baltimore. Other than that I don't have a timeline, we will do it as fast as we can," he said. He also explained that clearing the third channel requires cutting and lifting heavy steel beams.

Recovery experts estimate that the process of clearing debris around the damaged structure in the Patapsco River could continue for several weeks. The time needed for shipping to return to normal levels remains uncertain.

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