Port signs PMT deal

Published 10:46 pm Monday, April 7, 2014

Cars manufactured by Chrysler are lined up at Portsmouth Marine Terminal after The Port of Virginia signed an agreement that brings the facility, which closed in winter 2011, back to life.

Cars manufactured by Chrysler are lined up at Portsmouth Marine Terminal after The Port of Virginia signed an agreement that brings the facility, which closed in winter 2011, back to life.

The Port of Virginia has announced that part of the long-vacant Portsmouth Marine Terminal will be used as a staging area for cars bound for China.

On March 30, a Norfolk Southern train arrived at its Carolina Yard in Portsmouth with 700 Chrysler SUVs manufactured near Toledo, Ohio, according to a news release.

The vehicles had been driven or transported from the rail yard to the terminal by car carrier and vehicle convoy.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

The operation occurred after the Port of Virginia, Pasha Automotive, Norfolk Southern, Chrysler Group and Siem Car Carriers collaborated on a six-month memorandum of understanding between Pasha and Virginia International Terminals. Authority CEO and executive director John F. Reinhart stated this could become the basis for a longer-term agreement.

“The immediate opportunity for PMT and the port is significant,” he stated. “This is a good first step of providing a ‘proof of concept’ to bring business back to PMT. There is a lot of opportunity at PMT for the right users, and this is one.”

According to the release, two to three more vehicle trains are expected, and a Siem vessel is scheduled to dock at PMT around April 25 to take an estimated load of 2,500 vehicles. The vehicles will be driven onto the export ship using labor from the International Longshoremen’s Union, and the practice will “mirror the port’s import vehicle operations at Newport News Marine Terminal.”

“Our goal is to provide a very high level of service and give Pasha Automotive reason to consider a long-term agreement,” Reinhart stated.

According to authority spokesman Joe Harris, the Pasha/Chrysler deal is the first business the port authority “went out and grabbed” for PMT since the facility closed in the winter of 2011.

Previously, the authority had announced two other arrangements involving PMT since its closure: It helped deliver Port of New York/New Jersey-bound vehicles after Superstorm Sandy, and a 20-year lease was signed with ecoFUELS Pellet Storage, a venture involving Gov. Terry McAuliffe, to handle wood pellets at PMT.

“We do have a signed lease with a wood-pellet company, but we have not seen any construction of the facility needed to load and store the pellets,” Harris wrote in an email. “In short, not a single pellet has moved across PMT.”