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The Impact of the Baltimore Bridge Disaster on Building Materials

Material Costs
Published

The tragic March 26 collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, following a collision with a massive container ship that lost power, is .

Imports will not be able to enter the port, and exports cannot leave as the collapsed bridge blocks the primary route into the Baltimore port. Imported commodities from overseas will need to be diverted to other ports of entry.

Based on Census data, the United States imported more than $3.08 trillion worth of goods from overseas. Baltimore imported $58.8 billion worth of goods in 2023, making it the 5th largest port of entry on the eastern seaboard and 15th largest overall in the U.S.

Baltimore’s largest import for 2023 was personal motor vehicles ($22.47 billion import value), followed by heavy duty machinery such as bulldozers and excavators ($3.62 billion). Unwrought aluminum was the 5th highest valued import for Baltimore at $1.25 billion.

Top imports related to the home building industry include:

  • Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood ($425.07 million), which represents 16% of the U.S. total import value for 2023, making it the most important port for plywood imports.
  • Gypsum ($23.99 million), representing 14% of the U.S. total import value for 2023 and the highest level of gypsum imports for any U.S. port.
  • Sawn lumber ($198.22 million), which represents 3% of the U.S. total import value for 2023, making Baltimore the 11th most important port for sawn lumber imports.

Other items of note include electrical transformers ($263.74 million), which represents less than 1% of the U.S. total import value.  

NAHB will continue to monitor the data and provide updates as they become available.

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