Legislation signed Tuesday gives full federal approval to dredge the Port of Virginia’s channel to 55 and 56 feet depths and widen it up to 1,400 feet, a plan the port authority says will accommodate its customers’ largest ships.
The dredging project will allow two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels upon completion targeted for 2025
THE PORT SAW A 9.3% REDUCTION IN SHIP CALLS IN 2017 FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR, BUT A 5.3% INCREASE IN TOTAL GENERAL CARGO
THE Port of Virginia’s plan to widen and deepen Norfolk Harbour’s commercial shipping channels received full federal authorization Tuesday with the signing into law of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Under the port’s Wider, Deeper, Safer project, deepening the port’s commercial channels to depths of 55 and 56 feet will make the Port of Virginia the US east coast’s deepest port.
The project was needed to meet the needs of ultra large container vessels already calling at the port, according to a port authority press release.
“Virginia’s inclusion in this legislation will ultimately provide us the means to better serve our ocean carrier customers by allowing them to sail the biggest ships in their fleets to Virginia,” said Virginia Port Authority chief executive and executive director John Reinhart in the release.
The widening of the port’s channel to up to 1,400 feet in places will allow for two-way traffic of ultra large container vessels, said the release.
Engineering and design for the project has already begun and construction is set to begin in January 2020. The targeted completion date is 2025.
Cargo volumes were up nearly 3% in the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year at the port, despite a drop in September due to Hurricane Florence.
The project is combined with a $700m investment in expanding capacity at the Port of Virginia’s main container terminals.