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An inside look at Key Bridge Command Center where salvage, recovery decisions are made

Behind-the-scenes look at the Unified Command Center of Key Bridge collapse
Behind-the-scenes look at the Unified Command Center of Key Bridge collapse 03:01

BALTIMORE -- About five miles, as the crow flies from what was once the Francis Scott Key Bridge, every decision in the complicated salvage operation is made at the command post.

From the post, you can still see the ends of the bridge that collapsed on March 26, huge cranes and steel in the Patapsco River.

The Key Bridge salvage operation is into its fourth week as clean-up crews make more progress in moving heavy debris and clearing the channel.

WJZ's Paul Gessler got a peek of the command post, consisting of six main agencies, at the Maryland Cruise Terminal.

"That's the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of the Environment, the responsible parties, represented by Witt O'Brien's and the Maryland State Police," Lt. Commander Amanda Faulkner said.

Faulkner walked WJZ through the Key Bridge Command Center where some officials are using cruise line ticket counters as their new offices.

The blue section is responsible for developing action plans. Those in the red are in charge of operations. Safety is top of mind with every move.

"Right now, we've had, to date, no safety incidents and this is a really complex situation we're responding to," Faulkner said. "Because of the collaboration we've had and the focus on the mission these stakeholders have had, we've been able to ensure the safety of our crews and the public are maintained."


At the cruise terminal check-in, the command center updates its progress every day, like on Tuesday, when they lifted section 1b, a 300-ton portion of the bridge. 

It also lists weather and tidal reports. 

Each day, more than 150 people process the updates, including signs and uplifting messages from school children.

"It's definitely motivation and a reminder to us as why we're out here and doing this," Faulkner said.

More than 1,110 tons of steel from the bridge has been removed from the river and taken to a salvage yard at a port in Sparrow's Point.

Recovering the two construction workers who remain missing is a priority, as is refloating the container ship Dali, which will allow the channel to fully reopen.

"In order to refloat the Dali, we're removing containers and we'll eventually remove this section of the bridge," Faulkner said.

The next challenge ahead for the team inside the Command Post is removing what's known as "section zero," another significant portion of steel sitting in the main channel.

Weather permitting, Unified Command crews hope to have that removed in the coming days.

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