Chinese Ship May Affect Baltimore Traffic Wednesday

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Traffic on the Bay and Key bridges could be an issue Wednesday because of what’s traveling under those bridges.

Alex DeMetrick reports clearance between some massive cargo and the bridges will only be a few feet.

A ship carrying four immense cranes built and shipped from China has been waiting at anchor near Annapolis. Wednesday at low tide, they will pass under the Bay and Key bridges.

“They’re not coming through the bridge at their full height. It’s been disassembled. The booms have been lowered so the height of the bridge is 183 feet, and I think we have four to six feet of clearance,” said Md. Port Administrator Jim White.

That’s still going to be something of a tight squeeze down here, but it’s the price of keeping Baltimore’s port competitive.

Ships carrying 4,000-6,000 containers now will be dwarfed by the next generation of ships carrying 14,000 containers. And because they’ll be wider, the bigger cranes are needed to lift cargo from one side to the other.

“That’s important because no ship owner wants to spin a ship once it comes into port,” White said.

To avoid the possibility of drivers becoming distracted as the cranes approach, the Bay Bridge will shut down at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday for roughly 40 minutes. The Key Bridge will close to traffic at 3:15 p.m. for about 20 minutes. Closing down the Key Bridge is also impacting another infrastructure project.

The 895 bridge that connects the Harbor Tunnel was set to partially shut down for repairs starting Tuesday night. That’s been pushed back to Wednesday night because the Key Bridge is one of the alternate routes needed for commuters and the ship carrying those cranes will be stopping traffic just as rush hour begins.

The four cranes cost $10 million each but no taxpayer money was used. The private company that runs the port for the state is picking up the bill.

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