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How badly will Baltimore’s economy be impacted?

One question arising from the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore is the extent to which the Baltimore economy will be impacted, and the impact this might have on insurers’’ liabilities. Readers will doubtless recall that many of the legal actions taken after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 came from coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico which claimed compensation for economic impact. There will be fears that such a development will repeat this time round.

Statements from most companies that habitually use the Port of Baltimore have focused on how quickly the companies can redeploy. But that will not be of much use to Baltimore itself, which must fear a leeching away of business to areas surrounding ports elsewhere on the Atlantic coast.

In yesterday’s press conference Maryland Governor Wes Moore said that he port was responsible for more than 140,000 jobs. “We have to ensure we can get our economy working again”, Moore said..

The Port of Baltimore is the annual docking site for approximately 850,000 motor vehicle. President Biden said on Tuesday in a public address that there was a need to restore not only the flow of traffic but also the livelihoods of the 15,000 workers whose daily lives are tied to the port’s operations.

Unfortunately, there is not a great deal that the federal government can do.

Marine salvage teams are being dispatched to Baltimore as the US Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to assess the damage but there will be (at least) a few weeks of logistical difficulties. And the resources available to the Army Engineers, the US Navy and the US Coast Guard are far less than they were.

That said, there is a history of the private sector stepping up to the plate when the public authorities (federal, state or city), for whatever reason, cannot.