Port of Baltimore sets container traffic record

Buoyed by an improved economy, the Port of Baltimore has set a new record in its handling of container traffic for the 12-month period that ended with March, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Thursday.

The port's public marine terminals handled the equivalent of 632,482 full-size containers between last April 1 and March 31. The best previous 12 months came between February 2006 and January 2007 – before the recent recession – when the port shipped and received the equivalent of 629,604 containers.

O'Malley attributed the surge to improved economic conditions, as well as the port's success in landing long-term container contracts with major lines such as Evergreen Marine and Mediterranean Shipping Co. He said the container business was also bolstered by a new direct container shipping service to the Far East.

Improving container traffic has long been a primary objective for the port, where that line of business has been a weak spot in its competition with other East Coast ports. Baltimore has traditionally been more successful with forest products, bulk commodities, automobiles and roll-on, roll-off cargo such as construction and agricultural equipment.

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