The Economic Impact of the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

By: Anneken Tappe · March 28, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Baltimore’s 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed this week after being struck by a cargo ship that lost power, resulting in multiple casualties. Unfortunately, the fallout didn’t end there. The destruction of the bridge is expected to significantly impact the local port and regional economy, disrupting the logistics activity at the port that processes billions of dollars in cargo every year.

Shipping Suspension

Following the bridge’s collapse, the city suspended all ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore, which is a key piece of infrastructure for several commodities and sectors, including sugar, farming and construction machinery, and autos and light trucks. A record of nearly 850,000 vehicles came through the port last year, for example.

Shipping giant Maersk (AMKBY) said it will reroute cargo to nearby ports but warned customers could still face delays. Automakers Toyota (TM) and Ford (F) have also said the collapse will partly impact their vehicle shipments.

Economic Impact

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth largest port for international cargo in the U.S., handling more than 50 million tons of cargo in 2023, valued at more than $80 billion. The port directly supports more than 15,000 jobs, and some 139,000 jobs in related services, making this disruption a significant hurdle for the local economy. Losses in the aftermath of the bridge collapse could reach $15 million per day, per some estimates.

That said, the broader U.S. economy isn’t expected to see a significant impact, as goods will likely find alternative ports and shipping arrangements. President Joe Biden has also pledged federal aid to restore the port as quickly as possible.

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