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Trains, Trucks and Tractors: The Race to Reroute Goods From Baltimore

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In another workaround, imported cars originally destined for Baltimore are coming into Newark and being trucked to processors in Baltimore, to provide work there while the port is closed. Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Baltimore port, said 14,000 vehicles had been brought down.

But such adjustments are straining the trucking industry.

Smaller car transporters, which have struggled in recent years because car sales have been hurt by the pandemic, a chip shortage and strikes, have not been able invest sufficiently in their fleets, said Sarah Riggs Amico, executive chair of Jack Cooper Transport, an auto carrier. “The supply chain right now is relatively imperiled in auto,” she said.

Container carrying truckers are also hurting.

Mr. Ayyad, the Baltimore trucker, said he usually charged customers about $300 to transport a used vehicle in a container to the Baltimore port for shipment to Dubai. Sending the cars to Newark costs him roughly $1,050 each trip, he said, but his clients have resisted paying more. Nevertheless, he continues to offer the service to keep drivers who may quit if there isn’t enough work for them.

Mr. Ayyad said he was dipping into his savings to keep the business afloat. “We are spending pretty much everything we have right now,” he said.

Before the Key Bridge collapsed, Kathleen Kropp’s business, Triple H Trucking, with 15 trucks, would transport containers with consumer goods to York, Pa., from Baltimore, a 60-mile journey. Now, though, the trucks must go from Baltimore to the Port of Virginia in Norfolk to pick up containers and take them to York before returning to Baltimore.

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