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Record-setting cargo volumes posted for May

Record cargo volumes are moving across the Port of Virginia as a result of expanded container handling capacity at its two primary terminals, the port announced on Friday.

According to the press release, the port processed nearly 261,000 twenty-foot equivalent units — or TEUs — of cargo in May, making it the busiest May in the port’s history. Last month’s strong cargo volumes were also a follow-up to the port’s best April in history, when nearly 246,000 TEUs were processed.

“We have moved more than a half-million TEUs in two months and are providing a very high level of service and efficiency to the ocean carriers and cargo owners,” John Reinhart, the chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated in the press release.

“Virginia International Gateway is fully-functional,” he continued. “The additional gates, expanded stack-yard, new berth and ship-to-shore cranes and technology overlay are all working in concert to provide increased productivity. We are working through punch-list items toward final acceptance and looking forward to a July ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’ve built a world-class facility and the team behind it continues to fine-tune the operation to drive optimal performance. As (we) move into the thick of peak season, we are ready to meet the needs of our customers.”

Nearly all phases of the operation saw increases in May. According to the press release, container tonnage increased by more than 5 percent, total rail volume by more than 4 percent, total barge volume by more than 5 percent, volume at Richmond Marine Terminal by nearly 12 percent and truck volume by almost 11 percent.

The port debuted the finished on-dock rail yard at VIG to a select audience of customers, partners, cargo owners and stakeholders on May 31. The rail yard now has nearly 20,000 feet of new track and is supported by four cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes, according to the press release.

“Both of the East’s Class I railroads (CSX and Norfolk Southern) provide double stack service to and from VIG,” Reinhart stated. “Combine that service with the investment we’ve made in our rail operation, and we are well-positioned to capture more rail cargo.

“Our rail reach into the Midwest is expanding and we are aggressively marketing our capabilities. It is realistic to expect that we will be moving 40 percent of our overall cargo volume by rail by 2022.”

The expansion at Norfolk International Terminals is on schedule, with 12 new stacks served by 24 new RMGs already in service.

Work on the second phase of the stack yard expansion began in December and is nearing completion. The third phase began this June, and the fourth phase is set to begin in September.

“We are on our way to another volume record for fiscal year 2019 and closely monitoring the trade environment for any effects that additional tariffs may have on our business as we go forward,” Reinhart stated. “These unforeseen changes are always of concern, but we are very optimistic about the long-term success of the Port of Virginia. To help ensure sustainability in the near- and long-term, we are working to diversify our cargo mix, and this strategy will serve as a hedge during challenging trade environments.”