Port trucks forward into spring

Published 4:31 pm Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Port of Virginia braved the storms of early 2018 and remains steady in its efforts to expand.

Compared to the last fiscal year, volumes for fiscal year 2018 are up about 4 percent — nearly 69,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo — despite a relative drop in February.

The port processed 218,729 TEUs in February, which is 1,647 fewer units than February 2017, according to a March 8 press release. According to John F. Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, part of this decline was bad weather.

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“January featured two snowstorms, which had an impact on our performance, yet we continue to perform in-line with our fiscal-year volume forecast,” Reinhart stated in the press release.

The port expects greater volumes in spring and summer as construction at Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals keep growth steady.

Rail volume for the port was up by 3 percent and total barge traffic up by 1 percent in February compared to last year. Truck volume, however, dropped by 4 percent.

“Our performance at the gates is not meeting our standards. As a result, the motor carriers are feeling the impact,” Reinhart stated. “The motor carriers have voiced their concerns, and we have listened.”

Eight new shuttle trucks were delivered to VIG last week, according to a March 5 press release. These mobile container handlers quickly move export and import containers from the piers to the container stacks.

They will support the expanded vessel and container operations that will result from the berth and container yard expansions at VIG.

“The timing of the equipment arrivals is critical to maintaining our schedule and progress, and these arrivals are timed perfectly,” Reinhart stated. “In April, we will be putting the first of our new container stacks into service, and as the construction on the first stacks wraps up, we will be able to immediately begin the installation of the cargo conveyance hardware and transition to the next stack to repeat the process.”

The first new container stack at VIG is expected to be online April 23. The components of two cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes were delivered in February, and assembly is currently under way. The cranes will be used to support the expanded rail operation, the first phase of which is expected to be operational by June.

Four new cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes and six rail-mounted gantry cranes have been delivered to VIG since Feb. 2. The terminal will receive eight more shuttle trucks by the end of March and 20 additional cranes by the end of summer, per the press release.

The port began construction on the $320 million VIG expansion in February 2017. Thirteen new container stacks in the yard will be supported by 26 new cranes. The berth will be lengthened and accommodate four new ship-to-shore container cranes, doubling the size of the rail operation and adding new lanes to the truck gate.

There are also four large ship to-shore cargo cranes set to arrive in early 2019. The expansion at VIG is expected to be completed by spring 2019.

“We are making significant progress on the capacity expansion project at VIG, and across the river at NIT,” Reinhart stated. “When both projects are complete in 2020, we will have increased the container capacity at The Port of Virginia by 40 percent, or 1 million container units.

“The end result of our effort will be new revenue streams, economic investment in Virginia, jobs for Virginians and sustainability for The Port of Virginia for decades to come.”