Army Corps: Full Port of Baltimore Access Coming This Month

Transportation Leaders Await NTSB’s Report on Bridge Collapse
Remains of bridge exploded
Explosive charges are detonated to bring down the final sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge as they rest on the containership Dali on May 13 in Baltimore. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

WASHINGTON — The Port of Baltimore’s waterways are on track to being fully accessible by the end of this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told members of Congress on May 15.

Tasked with clearing the wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in March, the Corps’ leadership expressed confidence about soon expanding navigable access at the once-bustling port.

“As of the date of this testimony, the Corps is on track to complete the removal of section four by mid-May and to restore two-way traffic to the federal channel by the end of May,” Major Gen. William Graham told the House transportation committee.

Graham is deputy chief of engineers and deputy commanding general, and deputy commanding general for Civil Works and Emergency Operations.

William Graham

Graham says two-way traffic is scheduled to be restored to the port by the end of May. (Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg News)

RELATED: Collapsed Baltimore Bridge Span Comes Down With a Boom

“Currently, work continues to remove all remaining wreckage across the full federal channel,” Graham added.

The panel’s leadership acknowledged the rapid response from the Corps and other agencies assigned to assist with restoring access to the commercial port, including the Coast Guard and the Federal Highway Administration. Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) pointed to a need for collecting and analyzing pertinent facts about the bridge collapse before detailing a road map for meaningful legislative action.

“It is important that we have a firmer estimate before we take any further actions on the cost share. In addition, if the company that owned and operated the ship is found to be liable, we must make sure that the government actively works to recover any money it is owed,” Graves said at the hearing, pointing to an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. “That could help offset the bridge funding or be used to make the people and companies who rely on and work at the Baltimore Harbor whole.”

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member, also emphasized NTSB’s role in the aftermath of the collapse.

“The NTSB’s thorough investigation of this catastrophe will help answer questions about how to prevent future [collisions], shore up bridges, save lives and protect our critical infrastructure,” he said.

Congressional transportation leaders agree restoring access to the port would improve the area’s supply chain connectivity.

NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy stressed the independent agency’s role in ascertaining, examining and ultimately sharing in-depth findings about the collapse. A preliminary incident report published May 14 concluded the agency’s “investigation of all aspects of the accident is ongoing as we determine the probable cause.”

RELATED: Source: Ship That Hit Bridge Had Power Issues While Docked

“You can be sure the NTSB and our expert employees are fully prepared to complete a comprehensive investigation on behalf of the American people into the causes of this tragedy, and we will do exactly that,” Homendy told the House committee.

Shailen Bhatt


Meanwhile, Maryland’s congressional delegation is endorsing legislation to direct the federal government to cover the full cost of the bridge’s reconstruction. The bipartisan Baltimore BRIDGE Relief Act awaits bicameral consideration.

Shortly after the collapse, FHWA provided $60 million from its emergency account to Maryland. Administrator Shailen Bhatt told House lawmakers the bridge’s reopening is scheduled for 2028 at nearly $2 billion.

The administrator observed, “I feel like it’s just been such an exemplary response and a message to send to the American people that when disaster strikes, the government is there working in close coordination with the private sector.”

On April 19, the U.S. Department of Transportation hosted a meeting with freight stakeholders to discuss the collective response at the port. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has noted the port remains open for truck transactions. On March 26, a containership slammed into the bridge, killing six construction workers. Authorities indicated their bodies were recovered.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: