Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-baltimore-officials-scramble-to-build-two-back-up-channels-into-vital-trade-hub-around-mangled-wreckage-of-dali-and-bridge-–-as-crew-of-22-is-still-trapped-on-shipAlert – Baltimore officials scramble to build two back up channels into vital trade hub around mangled wreckage of Dali and bridge – as crew of 22 is STILL trapped on ship

Baltimore officials have announced they will build two temporary alternate channels for commercially essential vessels following last week’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after it was struck by the Dali cargo ship.

Crews have begun the complicated work of removing steel and concrete at the site of the bridge’s deadly collapse into the Patapsco River after the freighter collision, which left six construction workers. 

Twenty-two sailors from India are still confined to the Dali since last Tuesday’s disaster as they answer investigators’ questions about the catastrophe.

On Sunday, dive teams surveyed parts of the bridge and checked the ship, and workers in lifts used torches to cut above-water parts of the twisted steel superstructure.

The captain of the port is preparing to establish the temporary channel on the northeast side of the main channel – It will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a horizontal clearance of 264 feet nd a vertical clearance of 96 feet, officials said. A video released Sunday showed the Coast Guard dropping buoys in the water.

Baltimore officials have announced they will build two temporary alternate channels for commercially essential vessels following last week's collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge

Baltimore officials have announced they will build two temporary alternate channels for commercially essential vessels following last week’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge

Debris is cleared from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge as efforts begin to reopen the Port of Baltimore on Sunday

Debris is cleared from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge as efforts begin to reopen the Port of Baltimore on Sunday

‘This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,’ Capt. David O’Connell, the federal on-scene coordinator of the response, said in a statement Sunday night. ‘By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore.’

On Monday, the Small Business Administration is opening a center in Dundalk, Maryland, to help small businesses get loans to help them with losses caused by the disruption of the bridge collapse.

The bridge fell as the crew of the cargo ship Dali lost power and control on March 26. They called in a mayday, which allowed just enough time for police to stop vehicles from getting on the bridge, but not enough time to get a crew of eight workers off the structure.

Two workers survived, two bodies were found in a submerged pickup, and four more men are presumed dead. Weather conditions and the tangled debris underwater have made it too dangerous for divers to search for their bodies.

Along with clearing the shipping channel to reopen the port, officials are trying to determine how to rebuild the major bridge, which was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore and was central to the city’s centuries of maritime culture.

Congress is expected to consider aid packages to help people who lose jobs or businesses because of the prolonged closure of the Port of Baltimore. The port handles more cars and farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

Eight construction workers were filling potholes on the bridge when the crash happened. Two were rescued soon after the collapse. Divers recovered the bodies of two others and the other four are presumed dead. Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, said they were working in the middle of the span when it collapsed. 

Eight construction workers were filling potholes on the bridge when the crash happened

Eight construction workers were filling potholes on the bridge when the crash happened 

The workers came to the Maryland area from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, according to diplomats from those countries.

One worker, 38-year-old Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, came to the U.S. from Honduras nearly two decades ago. His brother described him as an entrepreneurial and hard-working husband and father of two. And El Salvador’s foreign minister, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, posted Wednesday on X that one Salvadoran citizen, Miguel Luna, was among the missing workers.

The collapse will almost surely create a logistical nightmare, shutting down ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore and snarling cargo and commuter traffic.

The port is a major East Coast hub for shipping. The bridge spans the Patapsco River, which massive cargo ships use to reach the Chesapeake Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dali was headed from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and flying under a Singapore flag, according to data from Marine Traffic.

President Joe Biden said he expects the federal government to pick up the entire rebuilding cost. His administration approved $60 million in emergency federal aid to pay for debris removal and other initial costs.