Baltimore's bridge collapsed in bulletin news & online news

Port of Baltimore Suspends Vessel Traffic After Key Bridge Collapses

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By Lorraine Mirabella and Maya Lora
The Baltimore Sun

(The Baltimore Sun) — Vessel traffic was suspended in and out of the Port of Baltimore, one of the nation’s busiest ports, after a container ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge and it collapsed early Tuesday morning, sending at least seven cars into the Patapsco River. online news

State transportation officials gave no estimate on when the port might reopen to vessels or the immediate impact to shipping. Officials, who spoke amid a continuing and massive search and rescue mission, said the port was not shut down and remained open to process trucks inside terminals.

“Vessel traffic into and out of the port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice, but the port is still open for truck transactions,” said Paul Wiedefeld, Maryland’s secretary of transportation, during a press conference.

The vessel suspension will likely have wide-reaching ripple effects, interrupting shipping and supply chains not only locally but nationally and internationally. The port is one of only three on the East Coast that can accommodate some of the largest ships in the world.

The port, which generates more than 15,300 direct jobs, had rebounded from global supply chain difficulties and disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic and hit records last year for handling cargo. It is the nation’s 16th busiest port, ranking first for volume of autos and light trucks, roll-on/roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum.

Scott Cowan, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 in the Port of Baltimore, said the halting of ships in and out of the port will be “catastrophic” for the thousands employed there.

Baltimore has a bridge collapse in online news & bulletin news
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, left, speaks during a news conference as Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) looks on near the scene where a container ship collided with a support on the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Tuesday, March 26, 2024 in Baltimore. The major bridge in Baltimore snapped and collapsed after a container ship rammed into it early Tuesday, and several vehicles fell into the river below. Rescuers were searching for multiple people in the water. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

“Until the shipping channel gets opened, there’s not gonna be any ship traffic, there’s not gonna be any ships, there’s not gonna be any work for the people,” Cowan said.

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Last year, both state-owned public marine terminals and private terminals handled a record 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo worth $80 billion.

Its location makes it the closest Atlantic port to major Midwestern manufacturing centers and an overnight drive to one-third of all U.S. households, according to the port’s website.

Louis Campion, president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, said he’s concerned about impact on the port and access to places such as Fairfield.

Campion raised concerns about traffic congestion, particularly because deliveries such as hazardous material loads cannot travel through Interstate 895 or I-95 tunnels. He also questioned how long fuel will be available at terminals to process deliveries over the next few days.

But he said it’s still “premature” to discuss the effects of the bridge’s collapse. He said he is in touch with “various administrative agencies to see how and when we can talk about alternative routing” for deliveries.

“We’re really still trying to assess it,” Campion said.

Cowan said none of the 2,400 workers he represents at the port were injured or missing, to the best of his knowledge. He said he was alerted to the bridge collapse by calls from his members around 2 a.m. He immediately started checking to see if any workers had been affected, as there was bridge construction underway and employees traveling to and from the port.

But the days ahead look dark.

Since workers get hired on a daily basis, Cowan said, work will dry up the moment the cargo already in the terminal is processed. And the halting of ship traffic will also affect consumers in the area.

Cowan said he’s in touch with the state and the port director and trying to get a timeline on when the shipping channel will reopen.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic accident. It is premature for us to comment on possible impacts to upcoming sailings,” said Matt Lupoli, senior manager of public relations for Carnival Cruise Line.

©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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