Key Bridge collapse: How Philadelphia's port compares to Baltimore

Annie McCormick Image
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Key Bridge collapse: How Philadelphia's port compares to Baltimore
Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: How Philadelphia's port compares to Baltimore

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With maritime traffic suspended until further notice at the Port of Baltimore, the question of where to divert ships has people eyeing ports on the East Coast, including Philadelphia.

Philadelphia's port is similar to Baltimore's in that they are a mixed-use port, handling everything from cocoa beans to lumber to railroad cars.

To give you a comparison, Philadelphia's port (PhilaPort) handled 7.4 million tons of cargo in 2023, which is just under two-thirds of Baltimore's 11.7 million tons.

Baltimore's Port is critical to import-export commerce, specifically automobiles since it is the busiest port in the country for vehicle shipments.

READ MORE: What we know about the Baltimore bridge collapse

Of PhilaPort's cargo, about 370,000 tons were automobiles, which is less than half of Baltimore's roughly 846,000 tons of automobiles.

In recent years, PhilaPort saw investments made into its auto-processing facility -- Packer Avenue is where those shipments come in.

A representative for PhilaPort tells Action News they do not anticipate any hiccups in the supply chain because of the potential for increased traffic.

Whatever is diverted to Philadelphia, the port will be able to handle, added the representative.

PHOTOS: Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses after cargo ship rams into support column

1 of 21
A container ship rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md.
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic and global disasters have tested those tasked with handling the supply chain and companies have learned to take control.

Erick Rowe is the vice president of product management with Infor Nexus. The company uses software technology to track business owners' products in transit in real-time and also allows them to divert amid disruptions like the bridge collapse.

"As of now we already rerouted 50 of those (shipments) to other terminals," said Rowe.

On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg discussed when Baltimore's Port could reopen.

"As far as the port, it's too soon to venture an estimate. The majority of the port is inside that bridge, which means most of it cannot operate. But there is a facility called Sparrows Point that can handle some cargo shipping, but not the totality of Baltimore," he said.