Port of Baltimore sees 20 percent jump in container traffic in January

Container traffic at the port of Baltimore jumped 20 percent in January, officials said.

Container traffic at the port of Baltimore jumped 20 percent in January from the first month of 2016 to a record 37,694 containers, officials announced Monday.

The additional container traffic led to a 14 percent increase in general cargo — which also includes cars, farm and construction equipment, forest products and breakbulk — to 923,030 tons, another new record for the month, officials said.

In a statement, Gov. Larry Hogan attributed the growth to the huge container ships from Asia that can now reach the East Coast through the expanded Panama Canal, which opened last year. Baltimore welcomed its first "post-Panamax" container ship last summer.

"As one of only four East Coast ports that have the infrastructure to handle the new mega-ships, the Port continues to demonstrate that Maryland is indeed Open for Business," the governor said.

Rolled paper increased 26 percent, and cars were up 16 percent from the previous January, officials said. While car shipments rose, overall roll-on/roll-off cargo, which includes farm and construction equipment, slipped 7 percent.

Port officials attributed that decline to the strength of the U.S. dollar, which eroded exports.

In 2016, the port handled a record 538,567 containers at its public piers.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

@cmcampbell6

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