Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: 3rd temporary channel opens

BALTIMORE — Crews have opened a third temporary shipping channel to allow commercial vessels some access to the Port of Baltimore following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

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The bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River late last month, leaving wreckage in the water that blocked the shipping channel. Six people who were working to fill potholes on the bridge at the time it fell died in the collapse.

The newly opened channel, dubbed the Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel, “will provide limited access for commercially essential vessels,” officials said. It is part of a phased approach to reopening the main channel to traffic.

“This additional channel increases the types of vessels able to transit inbound and outbound the port of Baltimore,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, captain of the port and federal on-scene coordinator for the government’s joint response to the collapse. “We estimate facilitating approximately 15 percent of pre-collapse commercial activity.”

The temporary channel has a controlling depth of 20 feet, a 300-foot horizontal clearance and a vertical clearance of 135 feet.

Officials announced the new channel on the same day that Maryland Gov. Wes Moore shared the start of the Port of Baltimore Worker Support Program, which aims to help workers who lost income due to the bridge collapse. People eligible for the program will need to have worked at the Port of Baltimore at least 25 times or have earned at least $5,000 from port jobs between Jan. 1 and March 26.

“This new program will provide $430 in weekly relief to Port workers who have lost pay and work hours due to the Key Bridge collapse,” Moore said in a statement.

“Our mission is to help as many people as we can during this difficult time – including Port workers who have already applied for unemployment insurance benefits; including Port workers who are receiving unemployment insurance; and including independent contractors and self-employed workers who work at the Port and are losing income because of the collapse.”

State officials have also launched the Worker Retention Program to help businesses keep employees as recovery efforts continue. Authorities said that as of Friday morning, 58 businesses have been approved for grants totaling $4.54 million in assistance. The funds are expected to protect the jobs of 824 people, according Moore’s office.

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