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Baltimore: Trade implications from Francis Scott Key bridge collapse as rebuild could cost $600m | Business News

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The collapse of the Baltimore bridge has trade implications, with the cost of rebuilding estimated to surpass $600m (£474.12m), experts have told Sky News.

Local officials have said Baltimore port in Maryland, the United States – which sees more than a million shipping containers enter and exit every year – is closed for all maritime and much road-based traffic “until further notice”.

Trucks, however, are being allowed to move goods out of the area.

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But the collapse, caused by a shipping container crashing into the Francis Scott Key bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning, is “going to block Baltimore from operating for some time”, according to Richard Meade, the editor of Lloyd’s List, the 287-year-old provider of shipping data.

Diversions are already taking place with “huge insurance implications”, Mr Meade said, as companies and authorities consider how to divert trade into other ports.

He said: “There are going to be implications in terms of what the eastern seaboard of the US now does to rearrange its logistics in order to account for this, because this is not going to be resolved in an in a quick manner.”

Such diversions will bring up costs, he added.

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The need to rebuild quickly is going to bring the cost to at least 10 times the original 1970s price of around $60m, according to David MacKenzie, chair of engineering and architecture consultancy COWIfonden.

“It’s got to be built quickly because you’ve heard of the pressure on the commuter traffic,” he said. “So that means it’s going to be a lot more expensive and the process of procurement’s going to have to be short cut hugely.

“So it is going to be an expensive rebuild at the end of the day.”

Baltimore is the eleventh largest port in the US in terms of container handling but the busiest US port for car exports, having handled more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023, according to the Maryland Port Administration.

It was the second busiest port for coal exports last year too. More than 444,000 passengers departed from the port last year, the Maryland government website said.

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Baltimore bridge collapse: what we know so far

Speaking of his experience crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland, Ken Gilmartin, chief executive of Wood plc, the London-listed oil sector engineer told Sky News: “You can’t but be impressed by the volume of traffic that goes under it as well as across it as well.”

It’s “very important to the infrastructure in that location as well as the US”, he added.

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Synergy Marine Group said the owners and managers of the Dali container ship, which crashed into the bridge and was bound for Sri Lanka, were fully cooperating with federal and state government agencies.

The exact cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the company added.

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Maersk, which chartered the ship, said: “We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected.

“We can confirm that the container vessel “DALI”, operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, is time chartered by Maersk and is carrying Maersk customers’ cargo.

“No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel. We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed.”

A search and rescue operation is under way, looking for people who may have fallen into the water.

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