It will take at least a few weeks to clear Baltimore’s shipping channel

What next? How soon will the Francis Scott Key Bridge be open for traffic? – Von Schmidt: The first day a massive container ship collided into the Patapsco River

Von Schmidt is a bit more optimistic about a timeframe. What level of traffic is there? He says that it remains to be seen. “I think it’s very possible that traffic moves in two plus weeks. Possibly, he says, “it’ll be wide open for traffic shortly after that.”

Officials say the first step is to remove the debris, then open the shipping channel, and later build a new bridge. President Biden has pledged that the federal government will pay for the bridge’s rebuilding, which could take years.

Days after a massive container ship slammed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the structure to crash into the narrow waterway, clearing debris from the channel so that maritime traffic can resume is an urgent priority.

That means scanning the bottom, Konrad says. “Right now, the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers is running a couple sonar boats to get a general idea,” he says. It’s going to take some time. And once they do that, they’re going to have to send divers down with welding, cutting torches, cut sections out, and then they’re going to have to bring in a crane barge.”

VonSchmidt hopes that the focus will be on clearing the center span so that there’s no restriction in navigation, because now with that debris, it’s restricted navigation.

The next step is removing “the tangled bridge debris,” he says. “Then you got to probably drag the bottom again to make sure you don’t have any debris that’s going to cause a problem.”

Before removing the ship, there will be a salvage company in place to make sure the hazardous materials are secured. Konrad said that “Don’t leak from containers, no fires, that sort of thing.”

When the container ship Dali struck the base of the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning, it set off a rapid chain of events. The bridge crumpled into the Patapsco River, its twisted metal draped over the ship and its thousands of containers. The workers and their cars fell into the water. Four workers are still missing and presumed dead, two of them are dead. And the whole disaster is now blocking one of the country’s busiest ports, the Port of Baltimore.

Baltimore’s port closure means lost work: From longshoremen to charter boats, it won’t be the last of Maryland’s longshore workers

“It has to be done very quickly,” says David Von Schmidt, a naval architect and engineer. “The regional, if not the national economy, cannot afford any longer than that.”

“Quite a few are out of work right now,” says Scott Cowan, president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 in Baltimore. He represents dock workers in the Port of Baltimore.

These are the workers who work at the port. They operate cranes. They receive and deliver cargo. They do maintenance and repair work on equipment and containers. They record the movement of cargo and perform clerical work.

“Some of our maintenance guys and mechanics are still going to work to maintain the equipment in the facility,” says Cowan. “But the majority of our work is unloading and loading.” That’s where the labor-intensive jobs are, where we use a lot of people. … And that’s not happening right now.”

The size of the impact to Maryland’s economy will be determined by how long it takes for the shipping channel to be cleared. Cowan says the closure of the shipping channel is costing $191 million a day in lost economic activity.

The state has set up a dedicated unemployment line for workers affected by the port closure. Through Wednesday, the day after the collapse, fewer than 200 affected workers had made unemployment claims, according to a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Labor.

And the Maryland Senate president, Sen. Bill Ferguson, said earlier this week that he will sponsor emergency legislation to provide income replacement for workers impacted by the port’s closure.

Still, Cowan doesn’t think the impact will be a lasting one for Baltimore’s longshoremen: “I believe the cargo will rebound here quite strongly and we’ll be going into the Christmas season here shortly, bringing goods into this country. We should be fine.

Source: From longshoremen to charter boats, Baltimore’s port closure means lost work

Captain Bobby’s sailing boat, Boat Baltimore, closes, but workers are unemployed – the bridge isn’t going to go away

Bobby LaPin — “Captain Bobby” — owns and operates Boat Baltimore, offering sailing tours of Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. He docks the 45-foot-long sailboat Saeda at a marina in South Baltimore.

It’s a seasonal business, and he’d been gearing up to start cruises on April 1. Now he won’t open until May. So the sailboat remains anchored, a blue tarp pulled taut over its deck.

“We decided to push back our opening day … because we don’t want to add to clutter of boats in the harbor while there is a recovery mission still ongoing,” he says. I don’t want people on the boat who are trying to get on the boat to see how bad the bridge is.

Normally he’d be hiring deckhands and captains to work for the summer, folks who work the winter in Florida and the summer up north. But for now, he’s holding off any hiring.

He says it’s too early to tell exactly what will be the impact on his business, but he expects bookings from tourists and conventioneers to decline for a time. And since the collapsed bridge is blocking access to the Chesapeake, he can’t take longer, more lucrative bookings, where he’d sail out to the bay.

“Obviously, the No. 1 concern economically is going to be to clear the channel so shipping can start. And then after that happens, they have to build a bridge,” he says. When building a bridge, they need to block the channel. So, you know, are we even going to have a bridge again?”

It won’t be necessary to close the channel while the bridge is under construction, says Benjamin Schafer, a professor of civil and systems engineering at Johns Hopkins University. “This has been a common challenge for bridge builders going back to at least the late 19th century,” and there are a number of construction techniques that will allow the channel to stay open, he says.

Source: From longshoremen to charter boats, Baltimore’s port closure means lost work

The Baltimore Peninsula — a beautiful waterfront bridge in the 1980s when ships were sailing on the Baltimore Straggins, and now ships are going to sail out of it

All of the boats were parked at the Port Covington Marina. Next door, the terminal at Cruise Maryland sits empty, the giant ships now directed to other moorings. Just inland from the marina are the sleek new buildings of Baltimore Peninsula, with apartments, office space and restaurants.

Alex Snider is the waterfront operations manager for MAG Partners, the company that’s redeveloping the peninsula. He says this is a quiet time of year, with the season for recreational boaters in late April or early May.

Even with the port being closed and the bridge collapsing, there is still something planned for the marina in the months to come. We’ve got the Baltimore Dragon Boat Club’s going to be rowing out of here this year. It’s busy.

“It was a beautiful bridge,” he says. “I’ve piloted driven boats, captained boats under that bridge hundreds and hundreds of times. … It will be weird not having that in the picture.

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