Baltimore authorities in US to open alternative route for commercial vessels

Baltimore Bridge. Photo Courtesy: Videgrab of Baltimore bridge collapse

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Washington/IBNS-CMEDIA: Authorities in the US city of Baltimore are working to open a temporary alternative route for commercial vessels following the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command said.

Last week, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed after it was struck by a cargo ship. Six construction workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse are believed to be dead.

“The Captain of the Port (COTP) is preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels,” the command said in a statement on Sunday.

A 2,000-yard safety zone currently remains in effect around the bridge in order to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment, the statement added.

“This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The temporary channel will be marked with government-lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 96 feet,” the command said.

The statement did not specify when the alternate route would become operational.

Meanwhile, US East Coast ports are shifting their working hours in order to receive cargo diverted from Baltimore over the bridge collapse, Bloomberg reported, adding that the Port of Virginia will open an hour earlier on Monday.

The ports of New York and New Jersey are working to ensure quick access for carriers that typically navigate via Baltimore.

In the early hours of March 26, a commercial Singapore-flagged cargo ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore soon after it departed the port for Sri Lanka’s Colombo.

The bridge collapsed, sending at least eight people from a construction crew working on the bridge into the water. Ship traffic in the port of Baltimore was suspended until further notice following the bridge’s collapse.