Governor Moore Announces the Full Reopening of the Port of Baltimore

Maryland government officials at the port of Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, MD —  Governor Wes Moore today joined United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director Tom Perez to announce the full reopening of the Port of Baltimore following the reinstatement of the Fort McHenry Federal Channel earlier this week. 

“After the bridge fell, we laid out four key directives: Bring closure to the families of the victims; clear the full federal channel and fully reopen the Port of Baltimore to vessel traffic; support everyone affected by this crisis – from our workers to our businesses; and rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge. We promised to bring each of these priorities to completion – even though success was never guaranteed,” said Gov. Moore. “By working together, we have achieved the first three of our four directives. But in this administration, we don’t settle for ‘almost.’ We finish the work we start. We can look out onto the Patapsco and see that the Dali is gone and the wreckage has been cleared. But I will not be satisfied until I can look out on the Patapsco River from this spot and see the Key Bridge standing tall again. That is the push. That is the promise. And by moving in partnership, we will make it reality.”

Governor Moore expressed gratitude to the men and women of Unified Command for working around the clock to quickly and safely reopen the 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep shipping channel to the Port of Baltimore following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. In only 78 days, Unified Command removed more than 50,000 tons of debris from the Patapsco River, fully restoring the channel, welcoming back global shipping businesses and cruises, and getting Marylanders back to work.

More than 1,500 people from federal, state and local agencies contributed to the reopening of the main shipping channel, including 500 specialists operating dozens of pieces of equipment.

With the full shipping channel now open, the Port of Baltimore’s economic engine is revving up to be stronger than ever. The Port of Baltimore’s public terminals directly support 8,000 workers, including longshoremen and truckers. Each day the port’s economic impact represents $192 million or more than $70 billion a year, representing 13% of Maryland’s gross domestic product.

“What happened that early morning of March 26th was horrific. What happened next was inspiring,” said United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “As of this week the channel is open, the ships are moving, the terminals are operating, and this great American port is full steam ahead.”

“Under President Biden’s leadership, we lead a whole of government effort to open the channel and get the port up and running — in less than 100 days,” said White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director Tom Perez. “This milestone is a remarkable example of what we’re capable of when we come together to deliver for America’s workers, businesses and families.”

“With the fully opened shipping channel and return of our global cargo and cruise partners, the Port of Baltimore looks forward to once again being one of the nation’s top ports, supporting thousands of jobs,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Thanks to Governor Moore’s steadfast leadership and the unprecedented collaboration within the Unified Command and among our public and private partners, we’ve brought business back to Baltimore in a matter of weeks.” 

​​“Today, we celebrate the complete reopening of the Fort McHenry Federal Channel in incredible time thanks to the expertise, determination and grit of the Unified Command and all of the key partners at the federal, state and local levels who have been focused on this urgent task. We also take time to mourn the six lives lost in the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. As we praise the hard work it took to bring the Port of Baltimore fully back online, we know that the families of these workers are still hurting and always will,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “Clearing the debris and reopening the federal shipping channel, so that we can restore Baltimore’s leadership among the nation’s ports and our region’s economic engine, have been essential. Simultaneously, Team Maryland has been focused on following precedent and President Biden’s pledge that the federal government will cover 100% of the cost of replacing the bridge. We are united in this mission and will do all we can to make it happen.”  

“Today is a huge win for Baltimore, for Maryland, and for our nation. Not long ago, restoring full access to the Port of Baltimore channel seemed like a distant goal. We wouldn’t have reached this milestone without the quick release of $60 million in federal emergency funding and the tireless focus and drive of the Unified Command, which includes federal partners like the Army Corps and Coast Guard working alongside state and local agencies and our port workforce in Baltimore,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “For the rebuilding of the bridge, we have already succeeded in enrolling the project in the federal program that will pay for 90 percent of the costs, and Team Maryland is united in our determination to pass our bipartisan legislation to ensure the remaining 10 percent is also covered – so that we can restore this critical transportation artery for our economy as soon as possible. While we celebrate the reopening of the channel today, we continue to mourn the lives lost in the tragic collapse of the bridge – and we hold their families in our hearts.”

“Today, we are not only bringing the Port of Baltimore back up to full capacity by reopening the federal channel, but we are also reopening economic opportunities for the communities across Maryland and America that depend on the port. I praise Governor Moore for seeing our state through this crisis and thank Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden-Harris Administration for their continued support,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-05). “Our work is not finished until the Francis Scott Key Bridge towers over Baltimore Harbor once more. Now, Congress must follow through on President Biden’s promise that the federal government will cover the full cost of the replacement project, and I will continue working to ensure that it does.”

“Swiftly reopening the Fort McHenry Federal Channel to commerce has been a priority since the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, and this is a crucial step toward restoring full operations at the Port of Baltimore,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03). “I am thankful to President Biden, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, Governor Moore and other key partners for their leadership and dedication to clearing the channel. The Maryland delegation will continue working in lockstep to support rebuilding the bridge, restoring full operations at the port and facilitating economic recovery in our region.”

“The full reopening of our Port’s main shipping channel is a matter of national economic importance and an example of the unshakeable unity among Maryland leaders and public officials across all levels of government. I know that all who have been involved in this recovery and rebuild effort are collectively driven by the memories and spirit of those we lost in this horrific tragedy. My colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate will continue our mission to ensure the federal government fully funds this effort, in line with President Biden’s pledge,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume (MD-07). “Yesterday, I appeared before the U.S. House Rules Committee in support of my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the federal government to fully fund the Francis Scott Key Bridge rebuild with the requirement that any compensation paid for damages or insurance proceeds collected be utilized to make the U.S. government whole. Rest assured, the Team Maryland Congressional Delegation will continue to pursue all potential remedies at our disposal to restore the Key Bridge.”

“The sudden collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was a human and economic tragedy that took a toll on the Baltimore region, the State of Maryland, and our nation,” said Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01). “Since the beginning of this tragedy, I have been clear that our efforts must focus on reopening the Fort McHenry Federal Channel and I am beyond proud of the dedicated and quick work the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers did to restore the channel back to its full operational depth.” 

“As many of us stood at the edge of the Patapsco River on March 26, the day the Francis Scott Key Bridge fell, we would have never imagined that the channel would be reopened so soon. This accomplishment is the direct result of the unrelenting dedication and grit of the Unified Command, who worked day and night to recover those lost in the collapse, clear the channel of dangerous debris, and return the Port to normal operation,” said Congressman David Trone (MD-06). “This is news to celebrate, but we all must continue working together to ensure Marylanders don’t foot the bill for the Bridge’s reconstruction. With the support of local, state, and federal partners, we are building a stronger, more resilient Baltimore.”

“The reopening of the channel in Patapsco River where the Key Bridge once stood is nothing short of a miracle. The hard work of the women and men in the Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Coast Guard, Port of Baltimore, the Federal and Maryland DOTs, as well as our entire federal delegation, state and local elected officials led by our steadfast Governor Wes Moore is to be commended,” said Congressman Glenn Ivey (MD-04). “Now the rebuilding begins. Much blood, sweat, toil and tears face everyone involved. But I know our team is Maryland Tough and Baltimore Strong and together we will build back better than before.”

“The reopening of the full federal channel is a major milestone, and a marker of the resiliency, grit, and perseverance of our city,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Every level of government and community – from the White House down to the local level where neighbors and community members pitched in to support those impacted – mobilized with incredible coordination and speed. Together, we have navigated unprecedented challenges, provided relief for those impacted by the Port’s closure, and have charted a course forward to restore the Port’s status as the economic heartbeat of the region. We did it all without losing sight of those most important in this tragedy — the Marylanders who lost their lives and their families who continue to deal with the impact. I want to thank each and every person who was a part of this effort for their contributions. The work is not done — but this period has made it clear that we’ll tackle every challenge ahead, together.”

“The reopening of the channel is a major step in getting our neighbors back to work and jumpstarting our economy as we continue our recover from this national tragedy,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “Thank you to Unified Command, the Biden-Harris Administration, Governor Moore, and to all those who have worked tirelessly to get us to this moment. This milestone is a reminder of what is possible when we put progress ahead of politics and testament to our ability to overcome this – and any challenge – together.”

The Port of Baltimore is the closest port to the Midwest, providing a quick and inexpensive way for manufacturers to send and receive cargo. The Port of Baltimore also ranks number one in handling farm and construction equipment and vehicles. 

The Maryland Transportation Authority is currently accepting requests for proposals for a design-build team to rebuild the Key Bridge. A project team is expected to be selected in mid-to-late summer this year, with the entire project estimated to be completed in fall 2028.