A piece of the Key Bridge rests on the front of the Dali, a container ship, in the Patapsco River on Tuesday. (Maryland National Guard photo / CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Unified Command overseeing the Key Bridge collapse response is preparing to open an alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vehicles.

“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the Port of Baltimore,” said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024.

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 vertical clearance 96 feet.

According to Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a Business Resource Center established in Dundalk by the Small Business Administration will help small businesses access loans of up to $2 million that are available at 4% over a period of 30 years with a grace period during the first year. Applications should be submitted online at lending.sba.gov by Dec. 30, 2024. 

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the declaration also empowers the State of Maryland to apply for federal funding to pay for services and training for impacted workers and wage recovery.

The telephone benefit line for Port of Baltimore Workers can be reached at 667-930-5989. 

The Unified Command overseeing salvage and recovery operations has also established a hotline for the public to report any debris from the bridge wreckage that has washed ashore. The telephone number is 410-205-6625.

Local assistance          

On Sunday, Moore confirmed that Unified Command has determined that the hull of the Dali is damaged but intact.

“Tradepoint Atlantic has agreed to help us with the process wreckage from the salvaging operations,” he said.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said that imported automobiles are currently being offloaded at Tradepoint Atlantic’s Sparrows Point facility and moved to processing areas where workers can get them ready for transport to dealerships.

“The port’s distribution operations continue, including cargo that comes in by truck and rail,” he said. “We are seeing increased traffic through the Fort McHenry and Baltimore Harbor Tunnels, but we have not seen any additional delays.”

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council is also assisting the Maryland Transportation Authority with its traffic data and modeling capabilities to help plan for traffic movement throughout the region.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman acknowledged that Miguel Luna, one of the six workers killed during the bridge collapse, was a resident of Glen Burnie.

“We have warehouse businesses and manufacturing taking place in the northern part of our county because of this port, and it gratifies me to hear that SBA loans will benefit businesses and the workers,” he said.

Pittman also noted that the tall ship Pride of Baltimore is currently docked in Annapolis and is welcome to remain until it is able to return to its home port in Baltimore.

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