Freight for Thought: Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses in Baltimore

The following insights are provided by Sunset Transportation’s Strategic Account Management team for March 2024.

Trends and discussions range from seasonal manufacturing and agriculture trends that affect available capacity to general insight into outside factors affecting freight volumes.


  • The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD collapsed early Tuesday morning after a column was hit by a large container ship, sending vehicles and people into the Patapsco River, authorities said. An active search-and-rescue by Baltimore medical personnel is underway.  Currently, we are also receiving reports of the following indefinite closures:
    • I-695 Southeast Corridor. I-695 Key Bridge closed until further notice.
    • Due to the current port circumstances, Seagirt Marine Terminal will stop receiving exports immediately, March 26th, at 11:00 AM until further notice.
  • With the necessary diversions due to the Red Sea conflict, carbon emissions have skyrocketed due to the additional 5,000+ nautical mileage needed to make a trip.  It seems the consensus is that global emissions goals for 2024 will not be met, but the “supply chain’s stability is far more important than established emissions targets”, according to JOC.
  • Container spot rates are falling as they do annually after factories in Asia close for two to three weeks during the Lunar New Year celebrations.  Spot rates were much higher this year than last upon entering the holiday, so even with large drops in spot rates, they are not expected to reach the low levels of last year.
  • Maersk is restoring a Panama Canal express service between China and the US East and Gulf coasts. It will relaunch its TP20 service in April, calling at Qinqdao, Shanghai, Yantian, the Panama Canal, Newark, Baltimore, and Houston. 
  • Maersk has opened a new 30,000 square-meter distribution center in Tijuana which seeks to tap into the growing demand for shipments moving from Asia to the US via Mexico on a duty-free basis. Shippers tapping the “de minimis rule” don’t have to file a formal customs entry with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if they import one package per day worth less than $800
  • Diesel prices have risen to $4.034/gallon this week, increasing $.006 from the week prior and decreasing $.094 from a year ago.



Please expect delays in transit for shipments going through the affected areas listed below:

Industry data is pulled and summarized weekly from key proprietors and industry experts using multiple publications and sources. Sources include, but not limited to: FreightWaves, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), DAT, Journal of Commerce (JOC), Reuters, PYMNTS, NRF, Bloomberg. The information is discussed with Sunset Directors and validated prior to publication of summary data in this posting.