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Baltimore businesses are trying to figure out how the bridge collapse will affect them

Grace Dean,Mary Hanbury   

Baltimore businesses are trying to figure out how the bridge collapse will affect them
  • Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after it was struck by a ship on Tuesday morning.
  • The bridge is close to several major distribution centers, including Amazon and FedEx.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore could have major effects on distribution and deliveries for businesses in the area.

Baltimore's biggest bridge collapsed early on Tuesday morning after a cargo ship crashed into one of its support beams, prompting Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to declare a state of emergency.

Several vehicles were on the bridge at the time, Kevin Cartwright, the communications director for the Baltimore Fire Department, told the Associated Press.

The collapse prompted the immediate close of the Port of Baltimore, which is one of the US' biggest ports by volume and value of cargo and the biggest US port for cars and light trucks, according to Bloomberg.

It may also delay companies' deliveries by road because they have to find an alternative route to cross the harbor.

Around 11.3 million vehicles drive over the bridge each year, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority, and Amazon, Home Depot, FedEx, BMW, and Volkswagen all have distribution centers and warehouses just east of the bridge at Sparrows Point.

"This is a huge issue that is going to motivate an all-hands-on-deck response to offset the financial hit," Dave Marcotte, a longtime retail and supply chain expert from Kantar, told Business Insider.

"It's going to snarl container seaboard, train routing, and East Coast trucking for a while," he added.

Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail division at data analytics and consulting company GlobalData, told BI via email that the collapse could "have a negative impact on journey times and costs for both incoming and outgoing goods from those centers."

He said the "main impact" would be local but added, "There might be a slight regional impact as other centers have to increase volume to compensate, but this should not be too onerous as most retailers can divert delivery traffic via other routes."

The bridge was one of three routes for vehicles to cross the harbor alongside two tunnels. The MDTA is advising drivers on alternative routes to take.

The bridge is near major distribution sites

Tradepoint Atlantic, the logistics hub at Sparrows Point, is home to distribution sites for various retailers and delivery companies, including Amazon, Home Depot, FedEx, Under Armour, McCormick, and Floor and Decor. BMW and Volkswagen also have sites there.

Tradepoint Atlantic said it had been "in constant contact" with emergency response officials and leaders from the city and state.

When asked about the impact of the bridge's collapse on its operations, a BMW spokesperson told BI it expected only "short-term traffic delays."

Volkswagen said its operations were unaffected as its Baltimore facility was "located on the sea board of the bridge collapse." But said there "may be trucking delays as traffic will be rerouted in the area."

Both Home Depot and McCormick, which manufactures spices and seasonings, said their distribution centers in the area were open and operating.

And, a spokesperson for FedEx said they have contingency plans in place to "lessen any potential impacts on service," without specifying what these are.

Business Insider contacted the other companies for comment but had not heard back when this article went live.

When the Volkswagen Group vehicle terminal opened in 2020, the automaker said it would import and process about 120,000 Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini, and Bentley vehicles from Europe and Mexico each year, serving about 300 dealers in the mid-Atlantic region.

The BMW vehicle distribution center, which opened in 2022, was designed to support more than 125 BMW and Mini dealers in central and eastern US, the company said in a press release when it opened. BMW said the 35-acre site would act as a distribution hub for vehicles from manufacturing facilities and be used for vehicle inspections, repairs, and maintenance.

McCormick said in 2020 that it expected its site at Tradepoint Atlantic to become its biggest distribution site.

"This is going to be catastrophic for many reasons," one resident told local CBS affiliate WJZ. "Number one, the harbor's blocked. Number two, we're not going to get any more new car deliveries at this time. Amazon is just on the other side of the river and you can forget your same-day, next-day delivery packages."

"The beltway is going to be a parking lot. The tunnels are going to be over-jammed," he added.

Local businesses prepare for ongoing disruption

The Hard Yacht Cafe, located about a mile from the bridge, told BI that it wasn't yet clear how the collapse would affect its business.

"The area of destruction is a major artery for traffic. We can't be sure what kind of impact this is going to have on our business but this will for sure disrupt all travel both auto and boating for weeks to come," Alexander DelSordo, majority owner of the café and Anchor Bay Marina, told BI via email.

"It's going to take weeks to get back to some kind of normalcy with regards to travel," he added.

A worker at Royal Farms, a convenience store at Hawkins Point on the southwestern end of the bridge, told BI at about 7:30 a.m. local time that it was open as usual and all its staff had been able to get in so far.

Has your business been affected by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge? Email these reporters at gdean@insider.com or mhanbury@insider.com.



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