ANNAPOLIS — Traffic on two Maryland bridges stopped temporarily Thursday morning as the cargo ship carrying four new container cranes finished its journey up the Chesapeake Bay to the Port of Baltimore.

On the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, traffic was halted for 20 minutes around 10 a.m. Thursday as the Hong Kong cargo ship Zhen Hua 24 passed under the bridge with the four Super-Post Panamax cranes in tow. Traffic was also stopped at the Key Bridge in Baltimore shortly after 12 p.m., according to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).

With the cranes on board, the Zhen Hua 24 had a total beam, or width at the widest part of the boat, of 489 feet. The maximum height of the vessel with the cranes on board was 176 feet, making it a narrow fit under the Bay Bridge’s tallest point at 186 feet.

The MDTA set up the traffic holds for safety to ensure that drivers wouldn’t become distracted looking at the 800-foot cargo ship and the container cranes as they just barely cleared under the bridge.

The cranes’ arrival at the Seagirt Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore marks the end of a two and a half month journey from China. The Zhen Hua 24 left port in Shanghai on June 28 and was expected to arrive in Baltimore on Sept. 5, according to Coast Guard documents. However, the vessel spent four days just off of the Mid-Atlantic coast waiting for the remnants of Hurricane Ida to finish moving through the region before making its final approach into port.

A second 50-foot-deep container berth was recently dredged at Seagirt to increase capacity for a second mega-ship and boost future efficiency and operations out of the port as part of Ports America Chesapeake’s multi-million dollar expansion.

Each fully electric crane measures 450 feet tall and weighs approximately 1,740 tons, making the new Super-Post Panamax cranes taller and heavier than the cranes that arrived at the port in 2012. The new cranes are able to extend to reach 23 containers across on a cargo ship and can lift 187,500 pounds of cargo. They are expected to be fully operational in early 2022.

“This is a great day for the Port of Baltimore and for the men and women who make up its outstanding workforce,” said Gov. Larry Hogan, who described the port as one of Maryland’s prime economic engines.

Natalie Jones is a reporter at The Star Democrat in Easton covering crime, health, education and Talbot County Council. You can reach her with questions, comments or tips at njones@chespub.com.

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