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Truck drivers upset over long wait times at Port of Baltimore

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Posted at 8:49 AM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 18:21:41-05

Truck drivers are upset about waiting up to four hours to get their cargo unloaded and a new container put on at the Port of Baltimore.

"We're talking hundreds of dollars a week, hundreds of dollars a day that we lose," Truck driver Rebecca DeRosa said.

Truck drivers get paid based on how many loads they can deliver, not hourly. For DeRosa, that dictates her lifestyle, caring for her loved one who has cancer.

Her company, Horizon Freight, has been around for three years and since last May they started logging how many of their trucks are waiting longer than an hour and a half inside the port.

They collected 134 logs.

Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration, James White, says the average changeover time is an hour, and that has been their goal for years. The most efficient turn over is done in a half hour.

White said the back up only happens about 20 percent of the time and is because ships arrive late due to "bunching" in the Panama Canal.

"Bunching of vessels, when you have a lot of vessels coming in at one time," White explained having three ships arrive at the same time equates to 6,000 containers hitting the port.

White says they are also the victim of their own success. The port surpassed the 10 million ton mark handling cargo last year.

Another problem is how many cranes are available to handle all that cargo, "they just ordered 6 more $2 million a copy," White said.

He said that may not ease the congestion at the port but points to an independent study done by the Journal of Commerce that awarded the Port of Baltimore as the most efficient port in the country three years in a row.