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Greater Baltimore, MD’s Ports, Airports, Highways Connect Region to World

A global business destination, it provides a world-class transportation infrastructure

By John Fuller on September 25, 2015

Greater Baltimore is a global business destination, and it provides a world-class transportation infrastructure that can move people and goods. With a day’s drive access to more than one-third of the U.S. population, the region offers favorable market access that has made it attractive to logistics providers. It includes 150 companies and 100 trucking terminals with a fleet of 27,000 commercial vehicles. Key East Coast thoroughfare Interstate 95 passes directly through the region, which is also served by Class I carriers CSX and Norfolk Southern and five shortline railroads, as well as three international airports.

Port of Baltimore

A key component of the region’s transportation infrastructure is the Port of Baltimore, whose public marine terminals had a record year in 2014, handling more than 9.7 million tons of cargo. Records were established in both auto and container shipments for the year. Public and private shipments of international goods at the port totaled 29.5 million tons, with a value of $52.5 billion. The Port of Baltimore is the leading U.S. port for automobiles, with more than 792,000 vehicles handled in 2014.

“We wanted to be a diverse port to protect ourselves against the downturns that can occur in the economy at any given time, and I think we have achieved that, “ says James White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration (MPA).

Baltimore’s Port Is Rolling

One of the largest vehicle and Ro-Ro (roll-on/roll-off) operators is Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), a Scandinavian-based company that has operated in Baltimore for more than 150 years. While WWL does more than ship and receive autos and machinery, it has developed a specialty in outbound vehicle logistics. WWL processes autos, heavy equipment, Ro-Ro and other noncontainerized cargo at the port, handling more than 200,000 cars and 1 million tons of cargo in Baltimore annually. The company employs more than 300 workers at its Dundalk Terminal facility in Baltimore. Michael Derby, general manager for WWL East Coast and environmental affairs, says one of the Port of Baltimore’s major advantage is the diversity in the commodities it handles and the effort the Maryland Port Administration makes for both public and private port operations.

“There are simply more options available to those wanting to utilize the port,” Derby says. One of the major factors in a successful port is its ability to turn around a ship quickly and efficiently, and Derby says Baltimore does that well. Baltimore is also an ideal location for auto and Ro-Ro shipments because of its location near major metro areas, particularly those in the Midwest. “The port also has excellent facilities and the land space to handle WWL’s large-scale processing operations,” Derby says.

Ports America Chesapeake Terminal

One of the largest terminal operators in the region is Ports America Chesapeake, which operates the Seagirt Marine Terminal, located on a 265-acre site. As part of a 50-year lease agreement with the MPA, Ports America built a new 50-foot container berth that can handle the large Post-Panamax vessels that are coming to East Coast ports with the widening of the Panama Canal. It also operates four state-of-the-art super cranes able to handle the larger ships. The partnership between Maryland Ports Administration and Ports America is expected to create more than 2,000 permanent jobs in the coming years. Bayard Hogans, general manager of Ports America Chesapeake, says Baltimore is a highly productive and efficient port with excellent deep-water channels and amenities that shippers want.

“We are an excellent part of the supply chain,” he says. White of the MPA says there are also long-range plans to create more land area in the port vicinity, through dredging, to expand automobile handling as well as container cargo handling.

Air of Distinction

Greater Baltimore also can effectively move goods and people by air. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall) is the nation’s 22nd busiest airport and serves more than 22 million passengers a year with more than 600 daily flights and nonstop service to 75 domestic and international destinations. Air service is also available nearby at Reagan National and Dulles International. BWI Marshall Airport is an important transportation resource and economic engine for Greater Baltimore, as well as Maryland and the nation’s Capital Region, says Paul Wiedefeld, chief executive officer for BWI Marshall Airport.

A major expansion at the BWI airport is the multiphase D and E Concourse connector program that will greatly benefit BWI’s growing international service. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2017. One of the new international carriers is Iceland-based WOW Air, a low-fare international airline that will operate service between BWI Marshall and Reykjavik, with connections available to other European markets.

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