With a timeline to restore Baltimore’s port operations in May, President Biden visited the downed Francis Scott Key Bridge Friday and called on Congress to authorize new spending.

“First — our first is our priority to reopen the port,” Biden said after viewing the bridge wreckage and stranded container ship Dali. “This is one of the nation’s largest shipping hubs. And it’s the top port in America both in importing and exporting of cars and light trucks — the number one.”

“I call on Congress to authorize this effort as soon as possible,” said Biden. “We will support Maryland and Baltimore every step of the way to help you rebuild and maintain all the business and commerce that’s here now.”

On Thursday the Army Corps of Engineers reported a third emergency channel past the bridge crossing will be open by April 30, with 35’ depth that will accommodate barge container service and some ro-ro vessels to move cars and farm equipment, another key category for the Port of Baltimore.

Corps engineers “are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity,” according to the Corps announcement.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is using $60 million in emergency funding for the federal response. Biden announced that another $8 million in grants will go for infrastructure improvements at Sparrows Point, where ships are still calling at the 3,300-acre Tradepoint Atlantic tract below the Key Bridge crossing.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the unified command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, the Army Corps commanding general. “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.”

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon views damage of the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge at Baltimore. USACE leads efforts to clear the channel as part of the larger interagency recovery effort to restore operations at the Port of Baltimore

In his remarks Friday, Biden mentioned the loss of six construction workers who perished in the bridge collapse after meeting with the workers' families. The missing men are still being sought as divers probe the underwater wreckage.

“We’ll also never forget the contributions these men made to this city,” said Biden. “We’re going to keep working hard to recover each of them.”

A third missing worker was recovered by divers around 10:30 a.m. Friday, the unified command announced later that day. He was identified as Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, 38. 

Salvage dive teams located the missing worker and notified the Maryland Department of State Police. The State Police Underwater Recovery Team deployed in coordination with dive teams from allied law enforcement partners and recovered Suazo-Sandoval.

Maryland State Police investigators, along with an FBI Victim Specialist, Baltimore County Critical Response Team, Governor's Office of Immigrant Affairs met with and notified Suazo-Sandoval’s family.

“The collapse of the Key Bridge is undoubtedly one of the most challenging tragedies we have faced as a law enforcement agency. Along with our local, state and federal public safety partners, we will not give up,” said Colonel Roland L. Butler, Jr., superintendent of the Maryland Department of State Police. “There are families still waiting to hear if we have found their loved one.  I can promise you, we are fully committed to finding closure for each of these families,” he said. 

Spellmon said the recovery effort is still a priority.

“These are ambitious timelines that may still be impacted by significant adverse weather conditions or changes in the complexity of the wreckage,” Spellmon said. “We are working quickly and safely to clear the channel and restore full service at this port that is so vital to the nation. At the same time, we continue to keep faith with the families of the missing and are working with our partners to help locate and recover their loved ones.”

A diver prepares to descend to wreckage of the Key Bridge in Baltimore. Divers conduct surveys to provide the Unified Command with information. (Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command video/Coast Guard by U.S. Coast Petty Officer 3rd Class Omar Faba.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued a graphic April 5 outlining temporary access channels around the fallen Key Bridge. USACE image.


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