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Port of Baltimore to reopen for normal operations by end of May, 2 months after Key Bridge collapse

Crews plan to reopen Port of Baltimore to normal operations by end of May
Crews plan to reopen Port of Baltimore to normal operations by end of May 02:49

BALTIMORE -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Thursday they will open "a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, to the Port of Baltimore within the next four weeks—by the end of April."

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

Port of Baltimore to fully reopen by end of May

The announcement noted engineers are trying to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep channel by the end of May. That would restore port access to normal capacity.

Another crane slowly made its way across the Patapsco River to the site of the Key Bridge collapse Thursday as salvage and recovery efforts continued, hampered by days of rainy and windy weather. 

The Unified Command planned to lift a 350-ton steel section of the bridge by Thursday night.

"We are rigging containers to get ready to remove them from the bow of the ship and bring them over to Tradepoint when we can do that," said Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath. 

WJZ captured workers using a torch to cut away yet another massive piece of steel.

Steel removal like Jenga

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they were placing devices on each steel beam of the bridge to see how much force the beams can withstand, likening the removal effort to a dangerous game of Jenga.

"The forces that it came down with, those spans might have been contorted in such a way that if you were to cut it, there might be some force that's pent up," said Colonel Estee Pinchasin at a Thursday afternoon news conference. 

Memorial for victims

Frank Conyers is one of many who came to a makeshift memorial for the victims nearby.

"It's sad. It's really sad. Every time I think about this, I feel like I'm going to cry," Conyers told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "Life is short."

That memorial sits on a hill near the Port of Baltimore with a clear view of what is left of the bridge. Cecilia Johnson just had to see it for herself.

"We are still praying for the loved ones who have not come out of that water yet, for the ones who are left behind, their children. We have them in prayer. They will always be forever in my heart and in my prayers," she told Hellgren. 

Kai Lewis lives nearby and has been coming almost every day since the tragedy. 

"The day when it happened, it was just bone-chilling. I was getting ready to go to sleep, and I just heard this loud roaring sound," Lewis said. 

President Biden visits Baltimore

The community is coming together and keeping a close eye on recovery efforts including President Biden's visit Friday, when he is expected to meet with the families of the victims. 

"The importance of President Biden coming is to show everyone this is who we are. This is what we do as a nation, as a country, as a people so that we can sustain the stability of life," Johnson said. "Your everyday living—everything you buy and use—comes out of this Port. It is vital."

Governor Wes Moore said a new liaison from his office met with victims' families for six hours yesterday and will provide them with a direct line of communication to his office. 

He also said 75 containers had been rerouted to Seagirt to provide much-needed work for longshoremen. 

Seven vessels remained trapped at the Port of Baltimore Thursday evening.

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