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Key Bridge collapse may affect over a million in Baltimore area, U.S. Census Bureau finds

Over a million people in the Baltimore area could be impacted by the Key Bridge collapse, the U.S. C
Over a million people in the Baltimore area could be impacted by the Key Bridge collapse, the U.S. C 03:11

BALTIMORE -- A newly released report by the United States Census Bureau details how the deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge collapse is impacting those living in the Baltimore area.

The report says the more than one million people who live in Baltimore City and Baltimore County will feel pressure for months after the disaster. That's not including the thousands more who are tourists and commuters.

The population of Baltimore City is 565,239, and 844,703 live in Baltimore County, according to census data. 

As city, state and federal leaders lay out recovery efforts, the Census Bureau data will help them gauge the needs and vulnerabilities of the region, the bureau said.  

Many impacted are living in poverty 

More than 56,000 people live in the neighborhoods near the Port of Baltimore and the water upstream from the bridge. Now, they are blocked by debris and wreckage from the bridge collapse.

The bureau said 14% of the people living in those neighborhoods are under the poverty level, and said it will be important to track how the collapse affects employment and poverty levels over the next few months.

There were 34,776 workers in the civilian labor force who lived in those areas and the unemployment rate was 4%, the bureau said.

Businesses hampered 

There are around 32,626 business establishments in Baltimore City and County, and more than 120,000 self-employed businesses. These will likely now experience delays in the transportation of goods since the bridge is gone.

More than 1,000 buildings were approved last year to create more than 2,300 residential units, according to the census. 

However, since delivery routes for supplies are impacted by the wreckage blocking the Port of Baltimore, the construction of new homes and businesses could be forced to slow down. 

The impact on the Port 

Marine access remains limited to the Port of Baltimore as salvage efforts continue in the Patapsco River. More than 47 million tons of goods are traded annually from the port. 

The port led the nation in imports of passenger vehicles, cane sugar, and gypsum abd exports from the port more than doubled from 2015 to 2023. 

Some of the top exports last year were passenger cars, black coal and liquefied natural gas.

Two temporary passageways were created for smaller commercial and essential ships and barges. The 14-foot channel along the south of the disaster site and the 11-foot channel along the northeast side allow limited marine vessels access to the port.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is leading the bridge salvage effort, said it plans to remove the metal framework that extends above the waterline by the end of April, making way for a 35-foot-deep by 280-foot-wide limited access channel for larger ships. 

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