Francis Scott Key Bridge Gone

In case you had not heard yet, a large container ship hit the supports for the Francis Scott Key bridge at the entrance to the Patapasco River which is where Port Baltimore is.  The bridge collapsed into the river blocking the port. The bridge was I-695, a major interstate of the mid-Atlantic region.  The port is one of the major ports of the U.S.

This disaster is massive for the region, and major for international trade to and from the U.S.  I have been reading up on what the people who analyze stuff for a living have to say.  First  it is a massive hit on the port and region, but for a limited time.  Second is the international trade will have a minor hit, with few issues in the short term.  Third is the Port of Baltimore was the major port for auto, truck, heavy equipment imports and exports.  Fourth is the port is one of only three on the east coast of the U.S. capable of handling the large freighters and container ships of the modern era; the immediate impact is a need to shift the current ships to ports which can handle them and the cargo.  And finally, the overnight thought is the port will be shut down for about three weeks, plus or minus a week or so.  Clearing the wreckage and the ship will be difficult, but not impossible.


To the interstate.  Right now there are three major routes through Baltimore of I-95. Two are tunnels which limit size and contents.  Something I did not know was propane tanks are limited to a max of ten pounds.  Normal grill uses a twenty pound tank.  So the two tunnels were at max capacity years ago and the I-695 bridge took that load off.  The third route is I-695 loop over the top of Baltimore which adds about thirty miles more to the journey.  It is often packed, similar to the Washington, D.C., Beltway.  All this means is that north south traffic along the East Coast is severely impacted getting through Baltimore.  Once the Port of Baltimore is functioning and ships are loading and off loading cargo again, the lack of the Francis Scott Key Bridge will impact cargo going south.


One good news is that the Biden infrastructure act has modifying and upgrading certain railroad tunnels, one in particular limits the height of trains leaving Baltimore going south.  That happening and the bridge rebuild  will provide greater movement of goods.


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