Can Georgia, South Carolina ports help after the Baltimore bridge collapse?

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(The Center Square) — Georgia and South Carolina port officials say they are willing to help their counterparts in Baltimore until their port resumes normal service after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

“Customers are still evaluating all their options in the market for Baltimore cargo,” the Georgia Ports Authority said in a statement.

“Many will decide in two weeks in hopes of hearing when the Port of Baltimore will reopen,” the agency added. “Georgia Ports Authority is working with customers as they identify cargo impacted. Customers are still evaluating all their options in the market for Baltimore cargo. Many will decide in the weeks ahead in hopes of hearing when the Port of Baltimore will reopen.”

The Georgia Ports Authority has two Roll-on/Roll-off cargo facilities: Ocean Terminal in Savannah and Colonel’s Island in Brunswick. Baltimore is the country’s largest Ro/Ro port, and Brunswick is the second largest.

Georgia’s ports are also finishing a $262 million upgrade at the Port of Brunswick’s Colonel’s Island.

Diversions of vehicles and heavy equipment will likely arrive at Colonel’s Island in the next few weeks, officials said. However, Georgia officials are unsure how much cargo will be diverted to Peach State ports.

Georgia Ports “have some space to absorb cargo, but this situation will be a challenge to all ports if this is an extended period before the Port of Baltimore reopens,” the agency added.

“We anticipate most container cargo will be diverted to Northeastern ports such as Philadelphia, Norfolk and New York-New Jersey,” Georgia Ports officials said. “We have the space in Savannah to accommodate diverted cargo but we anticipate little impact since plenty of other container port options are located nearby Baltimore. Ocean carriers are still deciding on routing for shipments that have yet to depart from origin nations.”

Port officials in South Carolina similarly said they are willing to help however they can.

“As a U.S. East Coast port, SC Ports and the entire maritime community stand ready to assist any ocean carrier customers and importers and exporters in this time of tragedy,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a statement to The Center Square. “We are here to offer support to ensure fluidity in the U.S. supply chains, which is critical to our economy and daily lives.”