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Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Just beyond Baltimore bridge wreckage, one cargo facility is bustling

Stephanie Hughes Apr 10, 2024
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Ed Johnson works in security at Tradepoint Atlantic at the port. Behind him is the Donington, a cargo ship that was redirected to TA's facility. Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace
Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Just beyond Baltimore bridge wreckage, one cargo facility is bustling

Stephanie Hughes Apr 10, 2024
Heard on:
Ed Johnson works in security at Tradepoint Atlantic at the port. Behind him is the Donington, a cargo ship that was redirected to TA's facility. Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace
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You’ve probably heard that the Port of Baltimore is largely closed to cargo ships due to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. But one part of the port is still able to take that type of ship. It’s a facility southeast of the bridge operated by a private company called Tradepoint Atlantic. And it is decidedly open for business.

It was 3 a.m. when Kerry Doyle got the call that the Key Bridge had collapsed.

“And then I started to try to drive to the office right then and there. And then I was — I was going to drive over the Key Bridge, and then I realized, ‘It’s gone,'” he said.

Doyle is managing director for Tradepoint Atlantic. Suddenly, the facility had to gear up both to help with recovery efforts and to take on redirected cargo. 

That means its marina is now bustling. 

“You’ll see where we’ve got high and heavy equipment coming off into this storage yard. We’ve got lumber being loaded out onto that truck there,” Doyle said.

Organic grain was also being lifted with cranes from another ship.

This operation can be complicated. Tradepoint doesn’t want to get grain on the BMWs or fancy tractors coming in, so Doyle has to think about things like scheduling the vessels and which way the wind is blowing, literally. 

Nearby, John Di Marino was waving a giant combine through a gated fence.

“I’m a checker. I check stuff,” he said.

He’s was making sure the vehicles coming in belong there. Di Marino’s been doing this work for 20 years. 

“Now, there’s not as much work going around. So my seniority gets me at least doing this,” Di Marino said.

There are 20,000 workers at this facility in regular times, and port manager Doyle said there’s more now, though they haven’t had time to count exactly how many. 

Meanwhile, Tradepoint needs more flat surfaces to store all this redirected cargo. So, it very quickly made plans to pave an additional 40 acres. Justin Larson will be working as a blacktop foreman. 

Justin Larson (left) and Ray Blevins are blacktop foremen with Tradepoint Atlantic. The facility is working to quickly pave 40 acres to store new cargo. (Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace)

“It’s gonna be 10-, 12-hour days,” he said. “I’m happy. It gives us something to do.”

All this has increased costs, but also increased revenue for handling the additional cargo. Doyle said he’s focused on keeping as much business at the port as possible.

“Right now, the Port of Baltimore looks somewhat vulnerable. Some of the cargo is being redirected to other ports. And those other ports have clearly stated that they want that business, even before this has happened,” he said.

The more cargo Tradepoint can accept now, Doyle added, the more likely those shippers will keep their business at the Baltimore port in the future. It’s a good thing, even if it’s at a different terminal. 

In other words, he said, a rising tide lifts all boats. Pun intended. 

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