Staff plan to reopen the Port of Baltimore for normal operations by the end of May

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Thursday that it will open “a limited-access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep into Baltimore Harbor within the next four weeks — by the end of April.”

The Corps said the channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore, “for barge container service and on/roll off vessels carrying some vehicles and farm equipment in and out of the port.”

Engineers will try to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide and 50-foot-deep channel by the end of May, the announcement said. This will restore port access to normal capacity.

Another crane slowly made its way across the Patapsco River to the site of the Key Bridge collapse Thursday as rescue and recovery efforts continued, hampered by days of rain and wind.

Unified Command planned to raise the 350-ton steel section of the bridge by Thursday night.

“We're ready to get them off the bow of the ship and bring them to the tradepoint,” said Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath.

WJZ captured workers using a torch to cut another large piece of steel.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said it will place devices on each of the bridge's steel beams to see how much force it can withstand, likening the removal effort to a dangerous game of Jenga.

“The forces that came through, those gaps, if you cut through it, some forces may have penetrated,” Col. Estey Pinchasin said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Frank Conyers was among those who arrived at a makeshift memorial for the victims nearby.

“It's sad. It's really sad. Every time I think about it, I feel like crying,” Conyers told WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren. “Life is short.”

The monument clearly shows what remains of the bridge on a hill near Baltimore Harbor. Cecilia Johnson had to see it for herself.

“We pray for the loved ones who have not come out of that water yet, for those left behind, for their children. They are in prayer. They will always be in my heart and in my prayers.” she told Hellgren.

Guy Lewis lives nearby and comes from Tragedy almost every day.

“The day it happened, it was bone-chilling. I was getting ready for bed when I heard this loud roar.”

Lewis said.

The community is pulling together and closely monitoring the recovery efforts, including a visit here tomorrow by President Biden, who is expected to meet with the victims' families.

“The importance of President Biden coming in is to show everybody who we are. This is what we do as a nation, as a country, as a people, so that we can maintain the stability of life,” Johnson said. “Your daily life — everything you buy and use — comes out of this port. It's vital.”

Gov. Wes Moore said a new liaison from his office would spend 6 hours yesterday meeting with the families of the victims and providing a direct line to his office.

He added that 75 containers have been converted to Seakirt to provide longshoremen with much-needed jobs.

Seven ships were stranded in Baltimore Harbor Thursday evening.

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