In Magazine Article, News
POB July/Aug cover

Read this article in the digital edition of our July/August 2019 issue.

By Todd Karpovich

Photography by Bill McAllen

The Port of Baltimore continues to rev Maryland’s economic engine with another record-setting performance.

The Port’s state-owned public marine terminals established new milestones for cargo tonnage handled in a fiscal year and in a quarter.

During the Port’s recently completed fiscal year 2019, the public terminals handled a record 11,001,234 tons of cargo, surpassing the previous mark of 10,969,308 tons set during fiscal year 2018.

Gov. Larry Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan

The second quarter of 2019 was the Port’s best ever, handling 2,873,392 tons of cargo and topping the previous quarter record of 2,790,745 tons set during the second quarter of 2018.

“With these records, the bustling Port of Baltimore continues to demonstrate what a vital economic engine it is for our state,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “Our administration will continue doing everything in our power to grow this incredible asset and support the thousands of men and women who work at the Port every day.”

Maryland was recently awarded $125 million in federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant funds to use toward the reconstruction of the 125-year-old Howard Street Tunnel. This project will reconfigure the tunnel to allow for double-stacked container trains heading to and from the Port.

Double-stacked trains are expected to boost the Port’s business by about 100,000 containers annually. The improvements will also generate 7,000 construction jobs and another 7,400 jobs as a result of the Port’s increased container business.

“For years, our administration has pursued funding for this critical project, and after a number of roadblocks, we are finally able to move forward on reconstruction,” Gov. Hogan said. This grant will help Baltimore break an East Coast bottleneck, “further bolstering our economic success at the Port of Baltimore and across the state.”

More infrastructure improvements are on the way that will further boost business.

Ports America Chesapeake, which operates the Port’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, will develop a second 50-foot-deep container berth. The Port already is one of the few U.S. East Coast ports with the necessary water depth and infrastructure to accommodate some of the world’s largest container ships. A second deep berth will allow the Port to handle two supersized ships at once.

“The partnership between the Port of Baltimore and Ports America Chesapeake … will continue to allow the world’s largest container ships to deliver the goods and commodities that power America’s economy through Maryland,” said Bayard Hogans, Vice President, Ports America Chesapeake. “Ports America Chesapeake is committed, with continued investment and expansion, to utilizing advanced technologies and enhanced infrastructure to deliver world-class service.”

Evergreen Triton

Evergreen Triton calls at the Port of Baltimore.

Earlier this summer, the Evergreen Triton, with a capacity to handle 14,424 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers, arrived at the Port, becoming the largest container ship to ever visit Maryland. Previously, the largest container ship at the Port was the 11,000-TEU container ship Gunde Maersk, which arrived last October.

“This is just the beginning for us,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) Executive Director James J. White. “These ships are going to continue to call the U.S. East Coast ports. They are going to be common at our piers here and we are just hitting our stride.”

In 2018, a record 43 million tons of international cargo was handled by the Port’s combined state-owned public and privately-owned marine terminals. The value of the cargo in 2018 was also a benchmark: $59.7 billion. Last year the state-owned public terminals handled a record 10.9 million tons of general cargo and 1,023,152 TEU containers, the first year ever to exceed 1 million. The Port also saw a record 850,147 cars and light trucks in 2018, the most in U.S. ports for the eighth consecutive year.

The success of the 2019 fiscal year comes on the heels of several records set in March for monthly standards for cargo tonnage and number of containers:

  • Most general cargo tons in a month: 1,018,274
  • Most 20-foot containers in a month: 95,862
  • Best March for cars and light trucks: 59,052 vehicles
  • Most roll-on/roll-off (farm and construction machinery) cargo tons since June 2012: 96,535

The 43 million tons in 2018 placed the Port as 11th among major U.S. ports for cargo handled and the $59.7 billion cargo value ranked ninth nationally. Among the nation’s ports, the Port of Baltimore ranks first for autos and light trucks, roll-on/roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum.

The Port accounts for about 15,330 direct jobs, with more than 139,180 jobs overall linked to Port activities. The average salary for people with direct jobs at the Port is 9.5 percent higher than the average annual wage in Maryland. The Port is responsible for nearly $3.3 billion in personal wages and salaries,  $2.6 billion in business revenues and $395 million in state and local tax revenues.