Cranes and planes
( Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun / October 16, 2013 )
The new cranes began operating in February at Seagirt Marine Terminal, allowing the port to handle cargo from the largest ships plying global trade lanes today and positioning it to handle an anticipated surge in cargo from the Panama Canal expansion to be completed in 2015.
September delivered Mazdas and Vice President Joe Biden to the port. The Japanese automaker began importing cars through the port under a five-year deal, creating an estimated 160 new jobs. And Biden brought a $10 million federal grant to deepen the port's access channel, expand railroad access and handle dredged material.
But the port also faced major hiccups.
The port's cruise business took a hit when Carnival Cruise Lines announced plans in June to leave next year, citing the the Environmental Protection Agency's strict new air pollution standards for ships. The loss could cost the region millions in economic activity from passengers who sail out of Baltimore.
In mid-October, hundreds of longshoremen at the port went on strike over contract negotiations, shutting down all of the port's public marine terminals. The effects rippled outward, leaving ship crews wondering when their cargo would be unloaded and warehouse workers and truckers without cargo to move.
At least one ship sailed away without unloading its cargo, and shippers, particularly automakers, began considering alternates. After three days, an arbitrator ordered the dockworkers back to work, citing an anti-strike clause within a broader contract governing workers up and down the East Coast.
The order established a 90-day "cooling-off period" to return workers to the docks while negotiations continued. That period ends in January.
More fliers flew through BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport as officials began looking at adding more international flights by 2015 as its largest carrier, Southwest Airlines, eyes overseas expansion.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration also launched a three-year, $125 million construction project at the airport to modernize one of its concourses and improve connections to international gates. The Federal Aviation Administration began preliminary planning for a new $26-million-plus air traffic control tower.
The airport also wrapped up a $100 million terminal expansion for domestic flights, and continued its $356 million runway rehabilitation program.