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Baltimore's port expected to rebound from Key Bridge disaster once channel reopens

Lorraine Mirabella, Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

Despite the day-to-day challenges, the global supply chain is expected to be flexible and resilient enough to adjust to the temporary loss of a port, even one that has ranked first in the nation in automobile imports and exports for 13 years.

Baltimore’s port has lost vessel traffic for now, with the Maryland Port Administration estimating the economic loss per day at about $190 million. But the port should bounce back, experts said.

For one thing, Baltimore has a unique geographic advantage as the closest East Coast port to the consumer markets and manufacturers in the Midwest, said Tinglong Dai, a professor of operations management and business analytics at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Port officials note that Baltimore’s port has become one of the most important in the nation because it sits in the fourth largest U.S. consumer market, with more than 70% of inbound containers only going within 70 miles.

“The Port of Baltimore is just too big to fail,” Dai said. “Because it’s so big and so important to the local economy and to the Maryland economy and even to the D.C.-area economy, the state, the city and the federal government will do everything to make sure the port will reopen as soon as possible.”

Port officials have been in touch every day with customers, many of whom have asked what they can do to help.


“Our response has been very simple,” said Richard Scher, MPA spokesman. “We tell them the best way to help us is to promise to return when our channel is reopened and they have all said they will.”

Here is a look at how some industries and businesses have adjusted in the weeks since the bridge fell:

Auto industry

At Sparrows Point, within sight of the wrecked Key Bridge and the grounded Dali, a line of Mitsubishis were driven Friday morning down a ramp off the Swan Ace. The auto carrier berthed at Tradepoint Atlantic’s marine terminal was among nine ships — carrying autos and other cargo — that have been diverted from other port terminals upriver of the bridge or that will be in the coming days.


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