Record year for area ports

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Port of Virginia set a new annual record for container cargo volume, having handled more than 2.65 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a 4.2 percent increase over last year’s total, officials announced this week.

In 2016, import and export volumes were up 6 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, over the prior year, port officials stated in a press release.

The port saw increases in TEUs, rail volume and total volume at Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, and the Richmond Marine Terminal had its most productive year since The Port of Virginia began leasing the facility in 2010.

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“In 2016, we moved 106,000 more TEUs than we did in 2015, which until now, was our highest volume year on record,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.

“The growth is significant — 8,800 TEUs a month, on average — and we have responded with improved throughput in all facets of the operation, especially rail. This record rail result placed The Port of Virginia as the highest rail-volume port on the East Coast, truly solidifying our position as the Mid-Atlantic’s global gateway.”

“Throughout the year, we built a significant amount of momentum that is carrying us forward in 2017,” Reinhart stated in the release. “Our focus now is getting underway with our capacity projects Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway, completing and opening the new gate at NIT in June and expanding our rail reach into our market by making use of the National Gateway, CSX’s double-stack route into the Midwest.”

The fourth quarter of 2016 was the best in the port’s history, officials said. There were double-digit increases in volume, and the port increased its market share of East Coast cargo volume from 12.9 percent to 14.5 percent.

Additionally, the National Retail Federation’s November figures show that Virginia’s import volume is growing faster than any US port.

“The work we did last year is a real tribute to our team and our port partners,” Reinhart said. “We must remain cognizant of the fact that we can always improve and continue to do those things that make us a sustainable business and grow The Port of Virginia.”

December’s 229,624 TEUs, made it the 11th consecutive month of TEU volumes exceeding 210,000 units, officials said. Also in December, rail volume was up 15 percent; total barge volume up 32 percent; RMT volume up 55 percent; and motor-carrier volume up nearly 16 percent.