Federal boost for port project

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Federal funds have been approved for a new “intermodal gate complex” at Norfolk International Terminals that will tie in with a planned highway connection to NIT and Norfolk Naval Station from Interstate 564.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Tuesday the Virginia Port Authority will receive a $15 million economic recovery grant for the project.

At a total cost of $29 million, the project at NIT, coupled with the I-564 Intermodal Connector, will ease the commute for Naval Station Norfolk-based military members and civil personnel, remove trucks from local Norfolk roads and increase cargo throughput and efficiency, state transportation officials say.

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“As proud Virginians, we recognize the critical role that our port plays in the economic vitality of the commonwealth,” Virginia Port Authority Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer John F. Reinhart stated in a news release.

“We are thankful that USDOT granted us similar recognition at the federal level.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine hailed the announcement of new funds for a project that will “provide direct access from the port to the interstate — creating jobs for a shovel-ready construction project, speeding deliveries of cargo from the port and taking truck traffic off local roads to reduce travel times for Hampton Roads commuters.”

A further $24.9 million under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant program was awarded for a bus transit project in Richmond.

“With these grants Virginia has secured one of the largest allocations of TIGER funds in the last four years,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe stated.

VDOT expects construction of the I-564 Intermodal Connector will be completed by June 2017.

This project will include four lanes separated by a grass median, a realignment of I-564 for a future crossing under the Elizabeth River, the redirection of port-bound truck traffic from Hampton Boulevard and variable message signs and traffic cameras.

Other “Navy Triangle” improvements include Fleet Recreational Park, a replacement recreational facility for the naval base to free up land for road projects; Hampton Boulevard Grade Separation, removing a conflict between Hampton Boulevard and the Norfolk Southern/Norfolk Portsmouth Beltline railroad; and Patriot’s Crossing, a new four-lane bridge-tunnel between the I-564 Intermodal Connector and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, with a connection to Craney Island.