The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is becoming a public spectacle as people seeking to catch a glimpse of it flock to the waterfront.

In some cases, it’s become a nuisance or even dangerous. There have been reports of drone cameras illegally flying to the restricted airspace and spectators who’ve pulled onto the shoulders of busy trucking routes in Sparrows Point.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command — a response led by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority and Maryland State Police — is maintaining a 2,000-yard maritime safety zone around the wreckage that is closed to the public, as demolition crews clear debris.

“The Safety Zone is enforced for the protection of personnel, vessels, and the marine environment from the potential hazards associated with salvage work,” Petty Officer Mikaela McGee, a Coast Guard spokesperson, said in a statement.

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Here are safe vantage points to watch the recovery work at a distance, along with areas — and activities — to avoid.

Safe vantage points

Spectators crowd Fort McHenry to view both Cherry Blossoms and the collapse of the Key Bridge on March 30, 2024.
Spectators crowd Fort McHenry to view cherry blossoms and the Key Bridge on Saturday. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Fort McHenry, a historical bastion operated by the National Park Service, remains open in South Baltimore. Visitors 16 and older must pay an entrance fee to access the historic site, but the waterside trail around its perimeter is free and open to the public.

On a clear day, the wreckage is also visible from the waterside streets of the Baltimore Peninsula development and Ferry Bar Park in Port Covington.

Fort Smallwood Park in Anne Arundel County also provides a view of the site. Portions of the park are currently closed to the public due to construction, but areas like the fishing pier and playground are open.

Spots to avoid

Coastal roads in Sparrows Point, home to the Tradepoint Atlantic port terminal and distribution centers for Amazon, Under Amour, Home Depot and other companies, have a heavy police presence. Drivers and spectators on Bethlehem Boulevard and Shipyard Road may be directed to move along.

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Police block Fort Armistead Road toward the Key Bridge on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.
Police block Fort Armistead Road toward the Key Bridge on Wednesday. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Fort Armistead Park is the closest public area to the west side of the wreckage, but it’s closed indefinitely.

No drones allowed

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented a temporary flight restriction on Tuesday. Law enforcement reported it is monitoring for drones and has zero tolerance for incursions.

Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron said in a statement that his office will prosecute anyone who violates that prohibition.

”The FBI’s message is simple: all drones are to stay away from the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse,” said William DelBagno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, in a statement. “You will be charged federally if you fly a drone in a restricted area. It is harmful to the recovery operations, and it is illegal.”

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Authorities have followed through on that kind of threat before. A Pennsylvania man recently ended up with a year of probation for illegally flying a drone over M&T Bank Stadium during a Ravens game.

A previous version of this story said that Fort Smallwood Park is closed to the public. Only certain portions are closed.

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