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Rise in cost of goods expected after Key Bridge collapse impacts Port of Baltimore

Rise in cost of goods expected after Key Bridge collapse limits traffic to Port of Baltimore
Rise in cost of goods expected after Key Bridge collapse limits traffic to Port of Baltimore 01:49

BALTIMORE -- From the beginning, many knew the economic impact from the Francis Scott Key Bridge's collapse would be big.

Brendan Heegan, founder and CEO of the e-commerce third-party logistics company Boxzooka, said we've yet to see all of the impacts, but adds there are ripple effects to be concerned about.

Since the bridge collapse more than four weeks ago, the Port of Baltimore's main channel has been closed. Three temporary channels have been created to help bring some maritime traffic back in the port.

Weather permitting, a new limited access channel that will allow for larger vessel traffic will open Thursday.

Trucks have still been able to come through the port, however, the collapse has forced suppliers to rethink how they're getting their products around.

Those workarounds, according to Heegan, are adding to their costs, which will in turn add to costs for consumers.

Some of the extra costs these businesses could be running into are going to another port, which could bring in higher fees. Also having to rely more on ground transportation, like trucks.

"Right now, costs are being borne by the shippers, by the importers, and by all the people that are directly related to the port," Heegan said. "Once they start to understand their costs and how they're changing, it will just roll down."

While Heegan is saying to expect higher prices, it's unclear exactly how much the increase for consumers could be.

"It wouldn't surprise me if certain automakers that were affected by this might have another line item on the sticker price that's a port surcharge or something like that. Another $500 easily," he said.

In 2023, the Port of Baltimore moved more than 50 million tons of goods in the U.S. and around the world. The port is a go-to for cars, sugar and coal, among other goods.

Heegan said some aspects of the supply chain flow will return when the port's main channel returns, but not to expect anything close to normal until a new bridge is built.

With the three temporary channels in play as of Wednesday morning, maritime traffic is 15% of what it was before the collapse, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The goal is to have the Port of Baltimore's main channel reopened by the end of May.

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