VIDEO: Work starts on Baltimore temporary alternate channel

Written by Nick Blenkey
Temporary alternaye channel will access Port of Baltimore

With removal of parts of the collapsed Key Bridge underway, work to open a temporary alternate channel to the Port of Baltimore has begun. [U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Giles]

As the first pieces of Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key bridge began to be removed, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) is preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the bridge for commercially essential vessels.

How soon that will happen remains unclear, but video released yesterday by the Coast Guard showed Aids to Navigation (ATN) teams starting to drop buoys to mark the temporary alternate channel

“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,” said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. “By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore.”

The plan for the temporary alternate channel as the Corps of Engineers surged crane barges and other assets to Baltimore and removal of pieces of the collapsed bridge got underway.

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The temporary channel will be marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet.

The current 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect and is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

The COTP will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM) via VHF-FM marine channel 16. Mariners are requested to monitor the VHF channel 16 for the latest information.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command includes the:

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Maryland Department of the Environment

Maryland Transportation Authority

Maryland State Police

Witt O’Brien’s, representing Synergy Marine, the operator of the 10,000 dwt containership Dali that struck the bridge March 26 and that remains trapped beneath a section of the roadway that ran across the bridge.

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