As the future Craney Island Marine Terminal begins to take shape, dikes consisting of dredge material from the Atlantic Channel poke above the low-tide waterline on the Elizabeth River. Port authorities have described this as a milestone in the facility’s development.

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Craney Island takes shape

Published 10:55pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

The emergence above water level of two dikes for the future Craney Island Marine Terminal marks an “important milestone” in the $1.2 billion project’s first phase, Virginia Port Authority interim Executive Director Rodney Oliver said.

The enormous structures, consisting of tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand pumped by contractors from the Atlantic Channel, first became visible on the Elizabeth River during low tide in early February, according to a VPA news release.

“The repurposed material is being spread in two orderly rows — perpendicular to the Craney Island shoreline — by a spill barge, a vessel specially designed for controlling the placement of the sand,” the release states.

Port officials say the first marine terminal at Craney Island could be operating within 12 to 15 years, with the final timeline depending on demand.

It is anticipated the terminal will cover 220 acres, with a 3,000-foot pier, six cranes, and a 52-foot depth. State funds of about $27.4 million were appropriated for the project in fiscal 2012.

“This is an important milestone as we can now truly see the progress; it was hard to get an image of what we were talking about when everything was still underwater,” Oliver stated in the release.

“As this project has now become something tangible, so too has the reality of the Port of Virginia becoming the East Coast’s cargo gateway. When Craney Island is finished, this port will have more container capacity than any of its peers on this coast.”

Work on the dikes is expected to wrap up by late March. They will be 2,000 feet long, 500 feet wide and 10 feet tall, according to the release.

“From above, the project will look like a large rectangle … with the shoreline as one of its long sides,” the release states. “A second cell will be developed and filled

at a later date.”

More material from dredging projects will fill the rectangle, a job expected to take six to eight years, creating a 600-acre foundation for the terminal.

Building a land pad for the terminal is “by far the most complicated and costly part of the project,” Oliver stated.

As well as the Craney Island project, the port also plans to double the size of technologically advanced APM Terminals Virginia.

The 2014 completion of the Panama Canal expansion is expected to bring a dramatic increase of much larger container ships sailing for the East Coast.

According to the authority, Virginia’s port handled 4,466 more 20-foot equivalent containers (TEUs) in January than it did in January 2012, a 2.9-percent increase.

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