6 Ways the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Will Impact Equipment Finance

By Rita Garwood, Editor in Chief, Monitor

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore will impact the equipment finance industry. Here’s a rundown:

1. Agriculture & Construction Equipment:

A record 1.3 million tons of roll-on/roll-off cargo, such as agriculture and construction equipment passed through the Port of Baltimore in 2023. The port’s short distance from Midwest manufacturers has made it a leading port for “combines, tractors, hay balers, excavators and backhoes,” according to Bloomberg.

2. Auto & Light Trucks

The Port of Baltimore has been the busiest port for vehicles in the U.S. for the last 13 years. In 2023, 847,158 automobiles and light trucks passed through the port. With the port closed, manufacturers will need to find alternate — and more costly — routes.

3. Supply Chain Delays

Maritime supply chains already faced disruptions this year due to the Red Sea Conflict, which forced many ships to take longer routes around the southern tip of Africa. Further, the low water level in the Panama Canal has adversely impacted movement of goods between the East and West Coasts. Closing the Port of Baltimore will only add to a long list of delayed shipments.

4. International Energy Impact

According to a Bloomberg interview with Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources, the port’s exports of coal may be halted for up to six weeks, blocking approximately 2.5 million tons of coal from being transported. The U.S. exported about 74 million tons of coal last year. With Baltimore, the second-largest coal export port of 2023 shut down, the global supply of energy may be disrupted.

5. Raw Material Access for the Construction Industry

The Baltimore port handles the largest volume of gypsum and lumber nationwide, which threatens to cause supply chain challenges for raw materials needed by the construction industry.

6. Trucking

The Key Bridge has been part of a key route for 1.3 million trucks every year (3,600 each day). Transport Topics reported that trucks carrying hazardous materials will need to bypass the Baltimore area by way of 30-mile detours, adding further delays and additional fuel costs.

“With total trade last year amounting to about $80 billion, every day Baltimore is closed is another $217 million that’s not crossing its docks,” David Wiener, managing director at The Alta Group and a Chesapeake Bay boating enthusiast, said.

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