Port of Baltimore plans expansion for growing car shipments

For The Baltimore Sun

After more cars and light trucks came through the Port of Baltimore in May than any month before, port officials are planning to turn an unused basin into a storage facility to handle the growing vehicle shipments.

The port handled 61,058 auto and light truck imports and exports in May, beating its prior record of 60,624 set in November 2015. It handled more cars, light trucks and farm equipment than any other port in the country in 2017, according to port officials.

The port also set a record for shipping containers, moving the equivalent of 90,152 20-foot containers designed for easy transfer between ships, trucks and railroads. The previous record of 88,391 20-foot containers was set in August 2017.

Next week, the state’s Board of Public Works will consider a proposal to turn a wet basin built for ship construction during World War II into 7 more acres of storage for cars and other cargo, according to the board’s public agenda.

Since its construction, the wet basin has deteriorated, according to the Board of Public Works proposal. It’s too shallow, and its bulkheads have worn away. Still, it’s close to the Fairfield Marine Terminal where the giant auto carriers unload now, which would make it a good location for storage, according to the proposal.

The project will cost about $6.3 million under a bid from Urban N. Zink Contractor Inc., based in Chase. About half the money would come from a federal grant and the other half from the Transportation Trust Fund.

In a statement, Gov. Larry Hogan called the port “one of our state’s leading economic engines.”

“Our administration is proud to support the Port and congratulates the thousands of hard-working Marylanders who ensure this vital asset continues to break records,” Hogan said.

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