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While the port is still processing trucks, the loss of the Francis Scott Key Bridge will disrupt port operations for some time.

Port of Baltimore halts vessel traffic after bridge collapse

A cargo ship is shown after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Rescuers are searching for at least six people, authorities said Tuesday morning, while eight others have been pulled from the Patapsco River. Win McNamee/Getty Images via Getty Images

Vessel traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice after a cargo ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge early this morning, causing it to collapse. 

Trucks are still being processed inside the state-owned port’s terminals, according to the Maryland Port Administration, despite the disaster cutting off a main access point that carries a southeast section of Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River. An estimated 35,000 vehicles traverse the bridge each day.

The collapse, which occurred at about 1:30 a.m., sent several vehicles into the river below and rescue crews continue to work to pull people from the water. Estimates for the number of people who fell into the water ranged from seven to as many as 20, according to local news outlets.

Eight people have been pulled out, and first responders continue to search for another six as of Tuesday morning, according to Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld.

“We are still investigating what happened,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a morning news conference. “But we are quickly gathering details. The preliminary investigation points to an accident. We haven’t seen any credible evidence of a terrorist attack.”

Workers had been doing concrete deck repair on the bridge at the time of the collapse, Wiedefeld told reporters Tuesday morning. 

“We know there were individuals on the bridge at the time of the collapse, working on the bridge, contractors for us,” Wiedefeld said.

Approximately 45 ships were inside the port as of Tuesday morning, according to maritime tracking platform My Ship Tracking. Two ships were stranded at the Port of Baltimore’s publicly owned terminals, one at Dundalk and another at South Locust Point, a port spokesperson said via text message. 

The ship, called Dali, is owned by Grace Ocean Co. and managed by Singapore-based Synergy Maritime Group. It was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka and was set to arrive on April 22, according to VesselFinder. 

Tradepoint Atlantic, the landlord for Amazon and other large shippers with distribution centers near the port, was meeting Tuesday morning with its tenants to assess effects to their operations, EVP of Corporate Affairs Aaron Tomarchio said in an interview.

Tradepoint is open to providing space to store roll on-roll off and commodities as needed during the emergency, Tomarchio said. The company is in the midst of a permitting process to build a new container terminal at the port.

“No one knows how long it’s going to take to [re]build that bridge,” he said.

Baltimore has been the busiest U.S. port for autos and light trucks for the past 13 years, thanks to its farthest inland position up the Chesapeake Bay and rail connections to automakers in the Midwest. The port handled a record 847,158 cars and light trucks in 2023.

Tradepoint is ready to partner with federal, state and local officials and the rest of the Port of Baltimore “to figure out how we minimize the impact to the supply chain, minimize the impact to the port industry, which is huge in our region, and figure out how we get back on track as a region and as a port as expeditiously as possible,” Tormarchio said.

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