USACE Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon views damage of the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge. In accordance with USACE’s federal authorities, USACE will lead the effort to clear the channel as part of the larger interagency recovery effort to restore operations at the Port of Baltimore. (USACE photo by David Adams)

Engineers working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District have estimated that a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep could provide access to and from the Port of Baltimore by the end of April.

The channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.

USACE engineers are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the Unified Command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, USACE commanding general. “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.”

“These are ambitious timelines that may still be impacted by significant adverse weather conditions or changes in the complexity of the wreckage,” Spellmon added.

In the meantime, Gov. Wes Moore said the state continues to explore creative ways to keep some activity going at the Port.

On April 4, CSX delivered at least 75 containers to the Seagirt Marine Terminal by rail from a large vessel that was diverted to the Port of New York and New Jersey, Moore said.

“This work presents a model of how we can work in partnership to get commercial activity to the port even when the channel is closed,” he said. “I want to thanks our friends at CSX and the Port of New York and New Jersey for working with us to make it happen.”

It is not a permanent solution, he stressed, and represents less than 5% of the average number of containers that the Port processes daily at full capacity.

A total of 77 businesses received assistance from the Maryland Business Resource Centers established in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Moore said.

The temporary resource center operating in Dundalk has now been replaced by a permanent Baltimore County center operating at the Garden Annex Building of the Community College of Baltimore County, located at 7200 Sollers Point Road.