Port of Baltimore reports record-breaking year for tonnage

The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore reported another record-breaking year in 2019, with new high marks for cargo tonnage passing through the public and private marine terminals as well as new benchmarks for containers and the number of vehicles handled.

The Port of Baltimore handled a record 43.6 million tons of cargo, including more than 11 million tons of general cargo at the state-owned public terminals for the first time ever. In addition, the number of vehicles — 857,890 — ranked first among all U.S. ports in that category for the ninth consecutive year.

“The port has never been more productive, and this record-breaking year shows its tremendous value as a regional economic engine creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs for tens of thousands of Marylanders,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in the announcement.

Among the records set in 2019:

• International cargo totaled 43.6 million tons at the public and private marine terminals, surpassing the previous record of 43 million tons set in 2018.

• General cargo totaled 11.1 million tons at the public marine terminals, surpassing the record of 10.9 million tons set in 2018.

• The public and private marine terminals handled 857,890 vehicles, surpassing last year’s record of 850,147 vehicles.

• Containers handled totaled 657,059 units at the public marine terminals, surpassing last year’s record of 626,046. The port also handled a record 1,073,749 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2019, surpassing the previous year’s total of 1,023,152 TEUs.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021 to renovate the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to accommodate double-stack container railcars, with completion targeted for 2024. The port said the project will create thousands of construction jobs, plus more jobs to handle the anticipated 100,000 additional containers that could come through the port.

In May, the port welcomed its largest visiting ship ever, the Evergreen Triton, which can handle 14,424 TEUs. Port officials said the massive vessel was able to call Baltimore because of the port’s 50-foot-deep channel and supersized Neo-Panamax cranes.

Another 2019 achievement cited was an agreement between the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, to restore two long-eroded islands and provide about 90 million cubic yards of dredged sediment placement over a 30-year period.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Port of Baltimore $1.8 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding to replace older diesel-powered equipment with newer, cleaner versions in about 44 dray trucks and four pieces of cargo-handling equipment. Replacements through the DERA grant are anticipated to result in the lifetime emission reduction of approximately 14 tons of particulate matter, 290 tons of nitrogen oxides, 96 tons of carbon monoxide and 15 tons of hydrocarbons.

While 2019 was a banner year for the Port of Baltimore, the future looks even brighter, officials said. Work is underway on a second 50-foot-deep berth, and four additional supersized cranes are expected to be in place and operational in 2021. These additions will allow the port to handle some of the world’s most massive ships simultaneously.