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Fourth temporary channel to open allowing stranded ships to leave Port of Baltimore

Fourth temporary channel to open around Key Bridge collapse site
Fourth temporary channel to open around Key Bridge collapse site 03:07

BALTIMORE -- A fourth temporary channel is scheduled to open at the Port of Baltimore on Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. 

That fourth channel will only be open for four days, but at 35 feet deep and 300 feet wide it will allow several ships that are stuck in the Port of Baltimore to get out.

Many ships have been stranded at the port since the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

"Around that 35-foot draft is where you're really starting to get some of the inventory that's coming onboard that had really been some of the hallmarks of The Port of Baltimore," Governor Moore explained in a press conference Tuesday.


Captain David O'Connell - with the U.S. Coast Guard - says there are currently seven ships ready to get out of the port. Five will be able to get out, including a loaded car-carrier.   

Dr. Christina DePasquale, a professor at Johns Hopkins's Carey Business School who focuses on economics, says having a car transporter being able to use the temporary 35-foot shipping channel is huge. 

"That's one of the port's claims to fame, right? We have the most car imports in the U.S. coming through that port," DePasquale said.

Commercial ships will also be using the fourth temporary channel to come into the port. 

"I know we have a container barge, which is scheduled to come in. We have another small bulker coming in, and another aluminum ship would be scheduled to come in during that time frame as well," O'Connell said. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to reopen the main shipping channel - which is 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep - by the end of May. 

"There's no way around it that in terms of the impact on the local and the state economy, we want to resume 100 percent of pre-collapse activity because it just contributes to so many jobs in the economy, contributes to so much income that flows through both the city, the county and the rest of the state," DePasquale said.

A third temporary channel has opened at the Port of Baltimore, according to a statement from the Baltimore Captain of the Port (COTP).

It's a sign of progress, as the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is already expected to trigger an increase in the cost of goods.

Unlike previous channels, this has a depth of 20 feet, which could allow larger commercial vessels to transport goods in and out of the port. 

"As previously shared, the first two temporary alternate channels opened by the COTP are not deep enough to accommodate the larger oceangoing container vessels that Maersk and other carriers use to call upon Baltimore and other USEC ports," the COTP said.   

With the main channel closed, businesses have had to use alternative methods to transport their products. 

With nearly half of the 700-foot main shipping channel cleared, salvage teams are now focused on the portion of the span on top of the Dali.  

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