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More than $100M spent to remove Key Bridge wreckage, feds say

Posted on June 17, 2024

The Port of Baltimore returned Wednesday to full operations for the first time in months, but questions remain about rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Officials touted the Key Bridge Response Unified Command’s efforts to successfully reopen the Federal Channel and the Port of Baltimore less than 100 days after the bridge collapse.

And, federal officials revealed for the first time that more than $100 million has been spent so far to remove wreckage from the Patapsco River.

“I’ve been waiting to say this for every day for the last 11 weeks: Maryland, the Fort McHenry Channel is fully clear, and the Port of Baltimore is reopened for business,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Bobby Lapin, the owner of Boat Baltimore, a company that sails charter trips around the Baltimore harbor, said he has noticed increased vessel traffic recently.

“I think it was a remarkable show of everyone coming together to get it done, and I feel like this is the big step, the big, big step to get Baltimore back to normal,” Lapin told sister station WBAL.

“I remember that morning on March 26, the only uncertainty was uncertainty, and many said it would take multiple months for us to get to this point, some said even up to a year,” Moore said. “Well, Maryland, this team did the unimaginable by many, and instead of 11 months, we got this thing done in 11 weeks.”

It’s something that he thinks has had a positive effect on businesses in the area, like his.

“I think that that feeling of normalcy, plus the good weather and things have really benefited our business,” Lapin told 11 News. “Just a few weeks ago, we were down in sales, but we are flying now. In fact, I’m wearing a knee brace because we had so many cruises this past week and I got a little hurt.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he expects cargo traffic to return to normal at the Port of Baltimore and that his department plans to enforce that with regulations.

“I’m on the water 10 hours a day, and over the last few weeks, I have seen so many ships, container ships or car carriers, whatever, return to Baltimore,” Lapin told WBAL.

WBAL learned exclusively on Wednesday afternoon that Buttigieg and White House officials are scheduled to meet Thursday with “players up and down the supply chains” to reinforce the expectation that they return to the Port of Baltimore with a goal to have ship traffic return to pre-closure levels.

“People will look back on this moment and the resilience that was shown and determination of Baltimore to come back stronger than ever,” Buttigieg said Wednesday afternoon.

Buttigieg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Butch Graham, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian discussed during a press briefing on Tuesday what it took to reopen the port, sharing new details about the challenges as crane operators, divers, mariners, salvage experts and others worked to reopen the full 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep Federal Channel.


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