With expanded global service offerings and completion of a second 50-foot-draft berth, plus commencement of the much-anticipated Howard Street Tunnel project, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore is enhancing its position as a favored East Coast hub for e-commerce and other trade.

This year’s collaborative start on the $466 million tunnel endeavor is likely the biggest advance as, upon projected 2025 completion, rail cars double-stacked with containers should be able to move freely to and from the Port of Baltimore, reaching markets in the Midwest, as well as up and down the entire U.S. East Coast.

The project, with funding from federal and state sources in addition to Class I rail operator CSX Corp., focuses on adding vertical clearance along the venerable tunnel, built beneath downtown Baltimore in the 1890s by CSX predecessor Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

According to MPA officials, the completed tunnel project is expected to add about 160,000 containers a year to the Port of Baltimore’s cargo flow.

Most recently, the Maryland Port Administration announced receipt of $15.6 million in federal funding for intermodal rail improvements at the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal – a project further supporting increases in rail moves. (See separate story on the next column of this page)

Complementing the tunnel undertaking is the $166 million expansion of big-ship-handling capabilities at the Seagirt terminal by operator Ports America Chesapeake. Completion in late 2021 of a second 50-foot-draft berth allows simultaneous accommodation of multiple megacontainerships at the Seagirt facility, where four additional neo-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes entered service this year.

The Ports America unit, which embarked in 2009 upon a $1.3 billion, 50-year concession agreement with the MPA, also is investing in hybrid-electric container-handling equipment, a state-of-industry truck gate complex, a relocated container repair depot and software and technology upgrades at the Seagirt facility.

At Seagirt, the latest service addition got under way in May, with Israel-headquartered ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. inaugurating its aptly monikered ZIM E-Commerce Baltimore Express (ZXB) from China and Southeast Asia. The service is poised to soon increase frequency to weekly from its initial biweekly basis.

Celebrating the May inaugural call at the Port of Baltimore by ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.’s ZIM E-Commerce Baltimore Express service from China and Southeast Asia are, from left: William P. Doyle, executive director, Maryland Port Administration; Yair Seroussi, chairman, ZIM; Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan; and Eli Glickman, president and chief executive officer, ZIM.
Celebrating the May inaugural call at the Port of Baltimore by ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.’s ZIM E-Commerce Baltimore Express service from China and Southeast Asia are, from left: William P. Doyle, executive director, Maryland Port Administration; Yair Seroussi, chairman, ZIM; Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan; and Eli Glickman, president and chief executive officer, ZIM.

“ZIM’s new e-commerce-centric service is outstanding news for the Port of Baltimore and our International Longshoremen’s Association labor force,” said MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle. “ZIM is one of the top ocean carriers…

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