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Salvage crews poised to remove massive piece of steel from Key Bridge collapse site

Posted on April 22, 2024

Salvage crews prepared to remove another massive piece of steel from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site.

The effort on Thursday will mark a turning point in restoring access to the Port of Baltimore.

“We’re getting ready to remove the furthest portion of steel that’s across from the vessel,” said Col. Estee Pinchasin, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

The Unified Command has its sights set on a specific portion of steel that, once removed, will enable the opening of a limited-access channel to resume commercial traffic back to the port by the end of April.

“The pilots will be trying to stay as far away from the vessel as they can, and getting that piece out of there will be very important to that effort,” Pinchasin said.

Over the next few days, crews will continue to rig, cut and lift steel from the wreckage site. A couple dozen crew members remain on board the Dali. When the Key Bridge came down, it sliced the front of the ship, pinning it down by its nose while the middle to the back of the ship is floating.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the Dali’s crew members have provisions and cellphones, and that all systems are running.

As cranes lift more than 100 containers off of the ship, the crew is awaiting the end of May, when the entire channel should reopen.

“The vessel will be removed by then. This massive, 5,000-ton span will be gone, and then, the wreckage on the far side as well,” Pinchasin said.

The debris is being taken by barge to Sparrows Point for processing and recycling.

The container ship Dali crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge shortly before 1:30 a.m. on March 26, 2024, causing the 47-year-old structure to collapse into the Patapsco River.

Maryland Transportation Authority police officers were able to close the bridge to traffic in the seconds before impact. Video showed two vehicles crossing the bridge within 30 seconds of the bridge’s collapse.

Crews rescued two people, but six members of a construction crew working on the bridge were unable to get to safety. After a lengthy search-and-rescue effort, crews recovered two men’s bodies from a pickup truck found under about 25 feet of water, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk. A third man, Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, 38, was recovered on April 5. Crews recovered a fourth man’s body on April 15, who authorities in Mexico identified as Carlos Daniel Hernández.


The 1.6-mile Francis Scott Key Bridge opened in March 1977 as the final link of the Baltimore Beltway\Interstate 695, crossing over the Patapsco River and connecting Sparrows Point to the southernmost tip of Baltimore. It was a four-lane bridge with a vertical clearance of 185 feet. According to an MDTA report issued in November, the Key Bridge carried more than 12.4 million commercial and passenger vehicles in 2023.

The downed bridge blocks access to the Port of Baltimore is one of the busiest American ports, handling some 52 million tons of cargo that contributes to $80 million in U.S. trade. It’s the busiest port in the country for cars and light trucks. The Coast Guard opened temporary channels to allow essential commercial vessels to move through the impacted area.

On April 15, the Associated Press reported that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation that is focused on the circumstances leading up to the bridge collapse and whether all federal laws were followed. The same day, the city of Baltimore announced a partnership with two law firms to “launch legal action to hold the wrongdoers responsible” and mitigate harm to the people of Baltimore. At the beginning of April, the companies linked to the Dali filed a petition in court for protection when it comes to liability.


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