Baltimore Bridge Disaster Could Slow Down Traffic For Years.

Image BBC. The ship laden with thousands of containers sped towards the bridge, and then it apparently loss power and even with two pilots aboard, it was unable to steer.
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The strategic location of the Key Bridge suggests there will be major disruption to road traffic for months and even years to come as the road is an important carrier of through traffic on I-95, the main route from south to north on the east coast of the USA. If you want to get from Florida to Washington or New York, this is the road you take.

Shipping activity in the port of Baltimore will also be severely affected in the short term as the port is closed, and it will be unsafe for ships to cross the line where the bridge stood without clearance of debris.

The four-lane bridge was part of Interstate 695, the outer ring road around Baltimore city known as the “Baltimore Beltway”, and carried an estimated 11.5 million vehicles per year.

It will still be possible to cross Baltimore harbour by tunnel closer to the city, but local authorities have declared a “major traffic alert”, anticipating significant traffic problems after the incident.

The bridge’s collapse will, in particular, be a major problem for lorries carrying hazardous materials, which were able to cross the bridge but are banned from the alternative tunnel route.

But the incident has created no less of a problem for shipping.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg declined on Tuesday to provide a timeline for the port’s closure but said there will be a “major and protracted impact to supply chains”.

Container shipping expert Lars Jansen said what had happened was a “major disaster” which would “create significant problems on the US East Coast for US importers and exporters”.

On top of some 21,000 units of cargo having to go through other ports in the region, he says “multiple merchant vessels are now trapped in the port of Baltimore”. None are container ships but there are some bulk carriers.

It is estimated that around 800,000 vehicles passed through the port in 2023, moving a record 1.3 million tons of imported cargo.

However, Mr Jansen says that while there will be some delays and added costs, from a global perspective the incident will not have a significant impact.

Mary D. Kane, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, said 35,000 people use the Francis Scott Key Bridge daily and the Port of Baltimore generates more than 15,000 direct jobs, with nearly 140,000 additional jobs affected to some extent by the port’s activities.

Kane said the Port of Baltimore has been one of the biggest economic drivers in Maryland.

The Port of Baltimore handles more autos than any other port in the nation. It also handles containers, coal, liquified natural gas and dry bulk tonnage, and it also operates a cruise ship terminal.

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