Demolition crews cutting into first pieces of collapsed Baltimore bridge

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California Construction News staff writer

Demolition crews continue to cut portions of the north side of the collapsed bridge truss. Two crane barges, a 650-ton crane and a 330-ton crane, are actively working on scene. The removed wreckage is being lifted and transferred to a barge as daylight allows. A 230-ton land-based crane will offload and process the wreckage at Tradepoint Atlantic. Every lifting operation requires engineering analysis to inform salvage operation plans.

BGE has reduced pressure of the underwater natural gas pipeline to 35psi. The pipeline spans the width of the channel and runs under the incident site. The Unified Command is continuing to coordinate with BGE to inert the pipeline to free it from hazards and risk.

Three dive teams with the Unified Command are surveying sections of the bridge and the M/V Dali for future removal operations.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command includes :

  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Maryland Transportation Authority
  • Witt O’Brien’s representing Synergy Marine
  • Maryland State Police

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that the Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t want to speculate on a timeline for repairs until damage to the underwater infrastructure can be fully assessed.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after being struck by a container ship — sending vehicles into the water.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves

A work crew  was repairing potholes on the road surface when the cargo ship Dali, leaving Baltimore for Sri Lanka, struck one of the bridge’s pillars. Two construction workers were rescued from the water. Two bodies have been recovered and six workers are still missing and presumed dead.

“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say,” said Brawner Builders executive vice-president Jeffrey Pritzker. “We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”

President Joe Biden is expected to visit the site this week and has promised federal funds “to pay for the entire cost of reconstructing” the bridge.

The Maryland Transportation Authority first responder radio traffic includes a dispatcher putting out a call saying a ship had lost its steering ability and asking officers to stop all traffic. It took officers less than two minutes to stop traffic on the bridge.

An officer radioed that he was going to drive onto the bridge to notify the construction crew once a second officer arrived, but seconds later, a frantic officer radioed that the bridge had collapsed.

The bridge carried an estimated 30,800 vehicles a day on average in 2019. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, that translates to about 11.3 million vehicles a year across the bridge, which was built in the 1970s and was 1.6 miles long.

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