Emergency Relief Planned for Port Workers After Bridge Disaster

With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, Maryland’s top lawmakers are scrambling to provide financial assistance to the thousands of workers impacted by the catastrophic collapse of the Key Bridge and resulting closure of the Port of Baltimore.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and Del. Luke Clippinger are leading efforts to draft emergency legislation offering relief to port employees suddenly out of work. Over 15,000 people in the Baltimore region rely on port operations for their livelihoods.

“The human cost of lives lost is overwhelming and tragic. The economic and stability loss to the thousands impacted in the days ahead cannot be understated,” Ferguson wrote, referring to the six presumed dead construction workers who plunged into the Patapsco River when a cargo ship struck the bridge early Tuesday morning.

Vessel traffic has been suspended indefinitely while the wreckage is cleared, though truck operations continue. The halt in shipping is already causing severe disruptions and economic fallout.

The Port of Baltimore is a critical hub for the East Coast shipping industry, handling millions of tons of cargo worth billions annually. Last year alone, over 840,000 vehicles passed through its terminals. The port directly provides over 15,000 jobs and supports around 140,000 others indirectly statewide, generating roughly $400 million in yearly tax revenue.

“I spent hours talking to labor leaders, dock workers, small businesses, and large port companies who all had the same message: ‘We must unlock the channel,’” Ferguson said. “They’re right. And until we do, there is enormous cost to families.”

With the legislative deadline looming on April 8th, lawmakers are racing against the clock to draft and pass temporary relief measures for the suddenly unemployed port workers. Details of the emergency plan remain unclear, but the administration is determined to act swiftly for those feeling the economic shockwaves.