Port plans capital projects

Published 11:41 pm Thursday, May 21, 2015

Virginia’s port has generated an operating profit of $10 million for fiscal 2015 so far, Virginia Port Authority’s chief executive officer and executive director reported during a commissioners meeting Tuesday.

According to John F. Reinhart, strong cargo volumes and financial performance in April bolstered the result.

April’s operating profit was $3.9 million, he stated in a news release. During the month, the port handled 210,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent containers), and truck containers, rail containers and ship calls were all up on April 2014.

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“Our financial performance is improving and as that happens, we are reinvesting the profits in the terminals,” Reinhart stated.

“We have a commitment to improving our delivery of service. We are not there yet, but positive operating results combined with our strong bond rating puts us in a very good position to continue our investment strategy and work to improve cargo velocity.

“The work has to be done now and with the support of the board we are investing in facility improvements, cargo handling equipment and people.”

Commissioners approved the purchase of 500 new chassis to assist service motor carriers, according to VPA spokesman Joe Harris. They will be added to replacement scales at Norfolk International Terminals, upgrades at Pinners Point Container Yard, new container handling equipment at Portsmouth Marine Terminal and the interim expansion of Virginia International Gateway.

The board also approved a fiscal 2016 budget including $123 million in capital projects, “the largest capital plan in more than a decade.”

“This budget will accelerate much-needed capital investments, of which $70 million are for near-term improvements for motor carrier service, congestion relief and expanding capacity,” board Chairman John G. Milliken stated.

“This budget will generate a modest operating profit of $2.7 million in fiscal 2016 and provide investments in equipment, personnel and system improvements to begin moving the port and the Commonwealth forward.”

With two months left in fiscal 2015, the fiscal-year-to-date result is $26 million better than last year, when the operating loss was $16 million, according to Harris.