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Port of Baltimore bridge collapse means more ships may be diverted to N.Y. and N.J. to help supply chain issues

New York and New Jersey expect increased shipping traffic in wake of Baltimore bridge collapse
New York and New Jersey expect increased shipping traffic in wake of Baltimore bridge collapse 02:33

NEW YORK -- We now know the "Dali" passed through Port Elizabeth last week en route to Baltimore. After Tuesday's catastrophic crash, local ports are preparing for an influx of ships and experts are warning of supply chain issues.

When the massive cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge early in the morning, it brought maritime traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore to a standstill.

"The fact is that commerce is stopping. No ships are going in. No ships are going out," said James Mercante, president of the New York Board of Pilot Commissioners.

The port is one of the largest on the East Coast, and serves as a key shipping hub for vehicles, international goods, and other cargoes, and processes more than 1 million crates every year. On Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden spoke about the port's significance.

"Around 850,000 vehicles go through that port every single year. We're going to do everything we can to get it back up and running -- 15,000 jobs depend on that port," Biden said.

"When we're looking at a major port like Baltimore that's bringing in billions of dollars of goods, they're going to have to be delivered in some way," said Rudi Leuschner, a professor at Rutgers University.

Watch Jessica Moore's report

Port of Baltimore bridge collapse means more ships may be diverted to help supply chain issues 02:32

In the event the port is inaccessible, as it was Tuesday, Baltimore ships can be diverted to ports in New York and New Jersey, like Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.

"What the real question is: are they going to be able to deal with on everything that happens behind the port? It's nice enough to drop off containers on the dock, but they have to go somewhere and that's where I'm worried we might see congestion and delays," Leuschner said.

Port Authority spokesperson Bethann Rooney told CBS New York, "The port of New York and New Jersey is proactively working with our industry partners to respond as needed and ensure supply chain continuity along the East Coast."

While supply chain experts assure consumers any disruptions should be manageable, local officials are trying to calm fears a similar bridge disaster could occur in our area, emphasizing bridge infrastructure here is some of the most highly monitored in the nation.

"We want New Yorkers to rest assured that the right precautions are in place to ensure that our infrastructure is safe and remains safe in how it interacts with both trucks and ships that both hit bridges occasionally, and we have the right protections in place," said New York City Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi. 

The Port Authority expects to begin accepting diverted cargo ships as early as Tuesday.

Leuschner said the biggest issue will be vehicles -- where to put them when they arrive at Port Newark or Port Elizabeth. He estimates most delays won't be felt for several weeks.

Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued the following statement: 

The tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has touched every corner of the nation, and we are ready to support Governor Moore and the people of Maryland in any way. We have seen over the past several years that indefinite port closures can impact national and global supply chains, which hurt everyday consumers the hardest. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can take on additional cargo, and we have directed the Authority to further evaluate all available resources to minimize supply chain disruptions. Along with our federal partners, we will continue to work together to support our neighbors in Baltimore and consumers nationwide.

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