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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells Fox News Digital that it is “too early” to provide an estimate on when the wreckage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge will be removed from the Patapsco River to allow marine traffic to flow freely into the Port of Baltimore again.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the military branch has been tasked, along with the Coast Guard, to clean up the area as part of a rebuilding process that he warned Wednesday will “not be quick or easy or cheap.” 

“It is too early to provide timeline estimates on channel clearance and reopening,” a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “Our priority remains providing support to the U.S. Coast Guard and our state and local partners’ recovery efforts at this time.” 

The Army Corps of Engineers says its Baltimore District has activated its emergency operations center, which clears the way for “more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists to provide support to local, state and federal agencies” responding to Tuesday’s bridge collapse. 

LIVE UPDATES: BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE 

Baltimore bridge collapse aftermath

The Dali cargo ship rests on the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP/Matt Rourke)

The branch says it will provide underwater assessment capabilities, structural engineering support – including “certified bridge safety inspectors and urban search and rescue structural technical specialists” – and removal of debris in the waterway that could pose threats to navigation. 

Two bodies were pulled from the river on Wednesday after divers found a submerged red pickup truck. Four other construction workers remain missing and are presumed dead following the collapse. 

COULD PROTECTIVE BARRIERS HAVE PREVENTED BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE? 

Dali stuck under Baltimore bridge

In this image taken from video released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, the cargo ship Dali is stuck under part of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (NTSB/AP)

“Based upon the conditions, we’re now moving from a recovery mode to a salvage operation because of the superstructure surrounding what we believe are the vehicles and the amount of concrete and debris; divers are no longer able to safely navigate or operate around that in the areas around this wreckage,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Roland Butler said. 

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore also said on Wednesday, “I do not know at this point what the total costs are going to be” and “I do not yet know what the full timeline is going to be.  

NTSB onboard Dali cargo ship

In this image released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, a NTSB investigator is seen Wednesday on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. (Peter Knudson/NTSB/AP)

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“But the thing that I do know is that the task in front of us, it will be real. It will be daunting. But despite this task ahead of us being daunting, I can tell you right now our resolve is unshaken,” he added. “We will get to completion. We will do it together. This work will take time, but we are going to make sure that we are going to leave no one behind. We are going to take care of our people.” 

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