Port volume continues to rise

Published 10:53 pm Friday, September 11, 2015

Officials with the Port of Virginia announced Friday that the commonwealth’s shipping facilities are expected to set new volume records again this year.

Container volume for August increased by 2.7 percent over the same period last year, port officials announced in a press release. Truck volume was up 0.3 percent, and rail volume increased 3 percent.

“We are entering the peak of the retail season, and we are handling the volume with greater efficiency and consistency than we did at this time last year,” Virginia Port Authority chief executive officer John F. Reinhart stated in the release.

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“We set a record for volume in 2014, and we anticipate we’ll set a new mark in calendar year 2015. We have had some difficult moments and continue to face challenges, but each month we continue to get better at handling these increasing monthly volumes.

With four months worth of shipping remaining in the calendar year, the Port of Virginia has tallied 141,000 more TEUs — twenty-foot equivalent units, the cargo capacity unit of measurement preferred by the industry — than it had by this time last year, officials said in the release.

The port also grew 10 percent in truck volume and 8 percent in rail volume during the same period.

“The strategy of investing in people, technology and cargo conveyance equipment that we implemented last year is beginning to show returns,” Reinhart said. “Now our efforts will be to continue to reinvest in all of our areas of operation, make the necessary changes to improve delivery of service, create sustainability and maintain profitability.”

The port’s CEO has estimated that Virginia will need to invest at least $2 billion into infrastructure during the next 10 years to ensure that the Port of Virginia can “increase capacity, remain competitive with its U.S. East Coast peers, cultivate reasonable, sustained growth and contribute to economic development,” the news release stated.

In May, the Port Authority’s board of commissioners approved a $135-million capital spending plan to improve its facilities, and that plan was launched in July, when the authority broke ground on the expansion of the North Gate at Norfolk International Terminals. The project is expected to increase the throughput of trucks through that terminal and keep many of them off the city streets of Norfolk.