• 63°

Port expansion on budget and on schedule

Expansion at Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals led to a dip in cargo volumes last month as the Port of Virginia managed a flow of empty containers, according to a Tuesday press release.

The port processed 236,893 twenty-foot-equivalent units of cargo, which is nearly 10,000 fewer units compared to May 2017, per the press release. Cargo volumes at Richmond Marine Terminal and Virginia Inland Port were up by 46 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

“Our May volumes dipped when compared with last year, but the drop was somewhat by design as we are asking our customers to limit the movement of empty containers to ensure that our effort during expansion is focused on loaded export and import boxes,” John F. Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated in the press release.

“Another factor is that last April, when the alliances went into service, there was an influx of volume moving across Virginia on the big ships that were taking advantage of our deep water and making first-in and last-out calls here,” he added. “Now, as expected, the alliances have spread out that volume across the East Coast.”

Three new container stacks at Virginia International Gateway are expected to come online mid-June, after the first stacks were activated mid-May in conjunction with the launch of Navis N4, the new terminal operating system. All 26 of the new rail-mounted gantry cranes for Virginia International Gateway have been delivered and are being prepped for service, according to Reinhart.

“We continue to focus on consistency at the gates at VIG and while our effort is producing results, there is still work to do,” he stated.

The port also anticipates the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final report on deepening Norfolk Harbor’s commercial shipping channels to 55 feet and widening them in certain areas. The Chief’s Report is expected to be released by the end of the month and give the green light to the Wider, Deeper, Safer project for which the Virginia General Assembly approved $350 million earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the port’s fiscal year continues to remain ahead of last year, with total twenty-foot-equivalent units up by 3 percent.

“The progress we are making on our expansion at both VIG and NIT is tangible,” Reinhart stated. “We are on schedule and on budget and moving forward every day.”