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Shipping Sees Fallout from Baltimore Bridge Collapse

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday has suspended shipping operations at one of the busiest ports on the East Coast, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: The incident has “tied up coal shipments and pushed retailers, truckers and industrial firms to reroute shipping volumes to contain the economic fallout of the catastrophic event.”

  • On Wednesday, a cargo vessel and two U.S. Navy logistics ships were stopped at the port behind a blockaded area near the bridge, while approximately 20 other vessels were anchored in the nearby Chesapeake Bay.

Why it’s important: Baltimore is the busiest port in the U.S. for autos and light trucks. In 2023, it was the second-largest gateway for coal exports and the tenth largest port in the nation for incoming container shipments.

  • Reconstructing the fallen bridge is going to be “a long term build,” Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD) said on Tuesday.

Impact on truck freight: Trucking firms are now looking at “taking wider routes” around the Baltimore area, the chief executive of one freight broker told the Journal.

  • “The shippers are going to have to just plan for it, and the carriers are going to have to use the data and experience that they’re beginning to build up now,” he said. “It’s going to just make it longer to traverse the [Interstate] 95 area” and will have “ripple effects” all along the East coast.
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