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Port completes a trailblazing 2018

The Port of Virginia finished fiscal year 2018 with a slew of new benchmarks, including one for cargo, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

The port’s fiscal year closed on June 30. According to the press release, the port handled 223,842 20-foot equivalent units in June, which was a 3.4-percent drop compared to June 2017. June, May and April were off compared to last year because of an ongoing effort to limit the number of empty containers moving through the terminals during construction, according to the press release.

“We were off from our forecast, but much of that can be attributed to the effort to limit the empty container imports and exports,” John Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated in the press release. “As a result, our total empty container volume was down by more than 76,000 TEUs. What’s important is that our action is having its desired intent, which is to increase efficiency at the terminals and ensure that loaded containers are our priority right now.”

The port still handled 2.8 million 20-foot equivalent units in total the end of the fiscal year, a 2.4-percent increase from fiscal year 2017.

“We finished the fiscal year in positive territory — our fourth consecutive fiscal year of growth,” Reinhart stated in the press release. “Our import container volume was up nearly seven percent, truck volume was up almost five percent, barge volume was up six percent and our volumes at Virginia Inland Port and Richmond Marine Terminal grew as well.”

June’s volumes at Virginia Inland Port and Richmond Marine Terminal were up 21 percent and 66 percent, respectively, while breakbulk tonnage increased by 13 percent and total barge traffic by 17 percent.

Reinhart made it clear that the port’s success in 2018 wasn’t just in volume, as it’s in the midst of a $700-million capacity expansion at Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals, its primary container terminals.

“We’ve made progress on many fronts throughout the year,” Reinhart stated. “Our expansion is on schedule and on budget. The port continues to grow and act as a catalyst for commerce throughout the commonwealth. And, we have the federal approval to begin the process to widen and deepen — (to) 55 feet — the commercial shipping channels serving the Norfolk Harbor.

Port personnel are reviewing their strategic growth plan to guarantee a diversified cargo mix while monitoring the impacts of tariffs that are on the horizon.

“The work being done today is positioning The Port of Virginia for success for decades to come, and our success helps to drive job creation and investment across the state,” Reinhart stated. “We will not let up, there is still much work to be done and we are up to the task.”