• 54°

More capacity boasts positive port results

The Port of Virginia just had its second-busiest March in history, having processed 240,035 twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo, the port announced last week.

Although cargo last month was off by nearly five percent compared to March 2018, the port is still handling near peak-season volume, according to John Reinhart, the chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. The average monthly volume in 2018 was 238,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs.

This dip in volume last month came as the result of five blank sailings because of the Chinese New Year, and four vessels that arrived late, according to the press release.

Inland operations at Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal and Richmond Marine Terminal were positive. Volume at VIP was up by 10.5 percent, or 285 containers, and RMT barge volume rose by 7.3 percent. Total barge volume was up nearly 37 percent, or 1,334 containers. Truck volume was down nearly 10 percent, while rail volume was flat.

Reinhart stated in the press release that the port’s new capacity gives it the leverage to go out and start “aggressively marketing” again. Virginia International Gateway tested its newly expanded capacity in late March when it worked two 14,400-TEU vessels and an 8,500-TEU-vessel at once.

“We are showcasing our new assets and capabilities to cargo owners and ocean carriers,” he stated.

The port is less than two months away from finishing construction at Virginia International Gateway. To date, 13 new container stacks serviced by 26 new rail-mounted gantry cranes have been delivered, and four new ship-to-shore cranes — the largest in the United States — were placed into service within the last two weeks.

“The second phase of the rail yard is the final piece to be delivered and that will be ready in late May — by June, we’ll be fully-operational at Virginia International Gateway,” Reinhart stated.

Expanded turn times in March at Virginia International Gateway were about 38 minutes for motor carriers using the truck reservation system, while traditional turn-times were about 32 minutes. Furthermore, 27,452 moves — 71.5 percent of the terminal’s total truck volume — were made during the reservation period from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The product we’re creating is world-class, and we are beginning to see results in terms of improved turn-times for motor carriers, better overall cargo flow and reduced dwell times for rail boxes.”

Progress on the south container stack-yard at Norfolk International Terminals is also being made. Twelve of 30 new container stacks have been delivered and their performance — combined with the reservation system — had a positive effect on gate efficiency in March, according to the press release.

Expanded turn times under the Truck Reservation System were about 44 minutes and traditional turn-times were about 39.

The second phase of the South NIT stack-yard project is set for delivery in September, and all construction is expected to be finished by late 2020.