Baltimore-based Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA) in less than a decade developed into a major multimodal global logistics hub.

Tradepoint Atlantic, soon coming up on its tenth anniversary, has emerged in that short span of time as a global logistics hub and is still growing fast with more major developments already in the works.

The 3,300-acre logistics center is built on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel facility at Sparrows Point within the Port of Baltimore. While environmentally remediating and rebuilding industry on the site was a formidable task, the allure of the massive waterfront space adjacent to one of the greatest consumer regions in the world is virtually impossible to duplicate anywhere else on the East Coast of the US.

“We have the strategic location, the space and the multi-modal capability to provide a customized logistics solution to users looking for long-term supply chain resilience,” Tradepoint Atlantic Vice President Russell Williams told AJOT. “We know how the logistics and transportation industry works and this is the right time.”

And a hallmark of TPA’s supply chain resilience lies with the logistics hub’s unique location: TPA was the only terminal site within the Port of Baltimore located south of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. For that reason, TPA was able to remain open following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as the result of a collision of the MV Dali and resulting closure of the 50-foot-deep shipping channel in the Patapsco River. Their location proved crucial in enabling the uninterrupted handling of redirected vessels carrying a variety of bulk, breakbulk, and ro/ro (vehicles and out of gauge freight) cargos following the bridge collapse. Ro/ro operations represent a key service component for the Port of Baltimore as the Port handled around 850,000 autos in 2023 – the most of any US port. TPA besides having the terminal availability to handle ro/ro ships, also has direct connections to CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads, along with interstate highway links [I-70, I-81, I-83, I-95, I-97 and I-895] to facilitate onward movements of the vehicles and other cargo. Additionally, TPA, because of the site’s ample acreage and fortuitous location, was able to provide space to aid Federal, State, and Local agencies during their recovery efforts.

At this writing, the channel is now clear of debris and open to be traversed by vessels for business and as Williams points out, “There’s been an incredible amount of hard work, around the clock, and it’s incredible to see the amount of progress that they’ve made so quickly, the collaborative approach with everybody, it has been nothing short of amazing,” he said.

Sparrows Point Container Terminal project layout

TPA — Growing Across the Board

TPA has established itself as a multimodal global logistics hub but there is still considerable room for growth within the 3,300 acres — including a planned container terminal, “We handle a wide range of cargo types, bulk, break bulk, roll-on/roll-off and the heavy-duty sector. In addition, the planned Sparrows Point Container Terminal will be the next phase of development at this time,” Williams said.

The container terminal plan was announced in October 2022 and is a joint venture between TPA and Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), an affiliate of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the number one ocean container carrier in the world. The project includes a 330-acre redevelopment, consisting of 168-acres allocated for new container development and an enhanced intermodal yard, with the remaining 162 acres slated for support facilities to enhance the overall operations of the terminal.

The container terminal, named the Sparrows Point Container Terminal (SPCT) will be served by an intermodal yard providing a connection to trunk lines operated by CSX and Norfolk Southern that both have nationwide distribution reach. The new SPCT terminal is a $1 billion private investment project that will lead to 1,100 direct jobs and over 6,000 indirect jobs

Williams says the planned container terminal will allow the Port of Baltimore to grow from a regional container port to a much larger hub, covering all the East Coast and extending into the Midwest market. This is a vital reach needed to attract and retain top global liner container shipping companies like MSC.

And from a regional port perspective the new forecast will boost the Port of Baltimore’s overall TEU handling capacity by 70%. This will enable the port to be more competitive with other Atlantic Coast ports like Virginia, Charleston, Savannah and New York/New Jersey.

And while the future container terminal is the headline grabber, it is only one of several initiatives underway representing a wide diversity of companies at TPA. For example, in March 2024, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) announced it had signed a lease and broke ground on a 400,000 sq/ft Logistics Operation Center at TPA complex. The new facility will handle all the UMMS supply chain operations. UMMS is Maryland’s largest health care system and delivers 25% of the healthcare in the State. But UMMS is just the latest in a wide range of companies that have decided to put down roots at the TPA’s Sparrow Point site. The over 50 tenants calling TPA home include well-known brands like BMW, Amazon, Home Depot, Under Armour, Floor & Décor and McCormick.

Ultimately, for this wide range of companies the real advantage of the TPA is the logistics hub’s multi-modal flexibility: the private railway and connection to the two Class 1 railroads, the links to the interstate road system and a waterfront that directly leads into the fifty-foot-deep main ship channel out to Chesapeake Bay. It is as Williams says, “...whether it’s marine focused, rail focused, or truck logistics focused. Across all modes of transportation, it is coming together. We are going to grow across the board on all of this.”