The container ship Dali is seen in the wreckage of Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 1, 2024.

The container ship Dali is seen in the wreckage of Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 1, 2024. (Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun/TNS)

BALTIMORE (Tribune News Service) — The Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that it has a tentative timeline of restoring access to the Port of Baltimore to “normal capacity” by the end of May. The corps said it aims 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.

“This ambitious timeline proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers offers a level of clarity and certainty that Baltimore needs to hear so we can collectively plan for continued recovery efforts — related to both our economy and our infrastructure,” Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement. “Now we have a target. We must do everything we can to meet that target.”

Engineers also plan to open a channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep by the end of April to allow barge container service and some vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to pass by the wreckage, according to the news release.

“These are ambitious timelines that may still be impacted by significant adverse weather conditions or changes in the complexity of the wreckage,” Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon said in a news release. Spellmon is the corps’ commanding general.

This week, temporary 11- and 14-feet-deep channels that pass under remaining parts of the Key Bridge were opened to allow a handful of smaller barges and tugboats out of the port. Seven commercial ships and four military ships that support the overseas deployment of U.S. military forces have been stuck in the port since the 984-foot container ship Dali collided with one of the Key Bridge’s main support structures last week, collapsing the bridge.

“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,” Spellmon said in the news release. “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal.”

©2024 Baltimore Sun

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