The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the closure of the Port of Baltimore this week could have far-reaching implications all the way across the country for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to several experts.

The bridge collapsed Tuesday about 1:30 a.m. when the Dali, a 985-foot-long cargo ship en route to Sri Lanka, crashed into one of the bridge’s support pillars shortly after losing power. It sent a majority of the bridge plummeting into the 50-foot-deep Patapsco River below, claiming the lives of at least two construction crew workers on the bridge; four others are missing and presumed dead.

In the short term, the closure of the Baltimore port will increase costs for businesses and consumers on the East Coast, said Lisa Anderson, founder of LMA Consulting Group, which specializes in supply chains and manufacturing. That’s because the container ships on their way to Baltimore will be diverted to nearby New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia ports, and the products they’re carrying will have to change the arrangements previously made to be transported to wherever they need to go, Anderson said.

The closure will also affect warehouses and other logistics services, which will have to decide whether they want to switch to other facilities while officials work on reconstructing the bridge and reopening the port, Anderson said. Trucks will also have to be diverted from the Key bridge, meaning they’ll either have to go around the city or pass through tunnels, which have height, width and hazardous materials restrictions.

Longer term, ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach could see more activity, especially with drought conditions reducing the capacity of the Panama Canal, Anderson said. The shipping route from northeast Asia through the Suez Canal and to the East Coast of the U.S. has also become perilous because of the war in Gaza. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have been attacking commercial ships going through the Suez Canal, resulting in shipping lines having to divert their vessels around the southern tip of Africa.

What that means is that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will see an increase of volume, translating to more activity for trucking companies as well as for warehousing and rail systems, Anderson said.

“That’s a positive, but we also need to make sure it’s not gonna become a new bottleneck,” she said. “These folks are adding time to their orders so they have to find new routes and we wanna make sure we’re prepared to service this additional volume.”

The closure of the Baltimore port could also lead to a “nominal” uptick in costs for the products that typically arrive there, such as cars and light trucks, Anderson said. The costs of diverted transportation will eventually be passed on to customers, but it’s not expected to be significant across the U.S., she said.

Read more at the LA Times