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Baltimore, Maryland Bridge Collapse: Supply Chain and Sustainability Updates

March 27, 2024 by Joe Panettieri

The Baltimore, Maryland bridge collapse has forced some businesses -- including major car companies -- to adjust their supply chains.

Among the challenges to note: The Francis Scott Key bridge collapse in Maryland has shut down certain activities at the closely located Baltimore port -- which is the busiest U.S. sea port for car shipments, Reuters reported. Still, car makers such as General Motors and Ford said the supply chain changes will have minimal impact on their businesses, Reuters reported.

The timeline below, updated regularly, tracks details about:

  • The Francis Scott Key bridge collapse;
  • immediate search and recovery efforts;
  • the investigation into the collapse;
  • implications for business and consumer supply chain sustainability strategies; and
  • longer-term rebuild and/or re-route supply chain strategies.

Baltimore Bridge Collapse Timeline & Updates

Baltimore Bridge Collapse: FAQ and Status Updates

What happened?: Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26, 2024 after a container ship struck a support column around 1:20 a.m. ET, The Baltimore Sun reported. The collapse sent at least seven cars into the Patapsco River, launching a search-and-rescue operation, and prompting Gov. Wes Moore to declare a state of emergency, the report said. Search and recovery efforts are continuing as of this writing. Six people are missing, Bloomberg Radio reported.

What was the Francis Scott Key Bridge?: The bridge, which opened in 1977, was 8,636 feet (2,632 meters) long and carried an estimated 11.5 million vehicles annually, according to Wikipedia. Roughly 30,000 cars cross the bridge daily, according to President Joe Biden.

What are the potential supply chain implications for land-based transportation?: The bridge was a designated hazardous materials truck route -- as HAZMATs are prohibited in the Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels, Wikipedia notes.

What are the potential supply chain implications for sea-based transportation?: The Baltimore port is one of the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration, Reuters said. The report said the following car companies ship through Baltimore port:

  • Audi
  • Bentley
  • General Motors
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Lamborghini
  • Nissan
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

What are the potential supply chain implications for railroad-based transportation?: The port is served by two "Class I" railroads and one short line, according to Maryland's Department of Transportation. Moreover, the Dundalk Marine Terminal (DMT) contains over eight (8) miles of rail inside the facility. Also, a heavy lift berth that can handle dimensional cargo directly from ship to rail. Both CSX and Norfolk Southern have the ability to move freight through DMT. Still, we don't know how much cargo flows between the marine terminal and local railways.

Will the Francis Scott Key Bridge be rebuilt?: Yes, according to President Joe Biden, though the current priority is search and recovery for potential victims of the bridge collapse.

Brandon M Scott
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott

When asked about rebuilding the bridge, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said: "The discussion right now should be about the people, the souls, the lives, that we're trying to save. There will be a time to discuss about a bridge and how to get a bridge back up but right now there are people in the water that we have to get out." That quote is per the UK's Daily Mail.

What are the associated Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions challenges: As supply chains reroute to potentially avoid the bridge and Baltimore harbor, carbon accountants may need to recalculate Scope 1 emissions for vehicles, and Scope 3 emissions for supply chain partners that are also rethinking the movement of goods through the Baltimore, Maryland, area.

Note: Blog originally published March 26, 2024. Updated regularly thereafter.

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