Corps, Port of Virginia Sign Dredging Agreement

Leaders from the Port of Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, have signed the Feasibility Cost Share Agreement (FCSA) for the Norfolk Harbor and Southern Branch deepening projects.

The Corps was represented by Col. Paul B. Olsen, Norfolk District Engineer, and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) by John Reinhart, CEO and executive director.

The agreement states that each entity will share in the cost of the feasibility studies and it starts the clock on the three-year window to complete the study.

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The shipping industry is rapidly changing and a significant area of change is vessel size: the ships keep getting larger and ports need land-side infrastructure and deep water to accommodate them,” Reinhart said. “Presently, the largest vessels in the Atlantic trade call The Port of Virginia and fully-laden with cargo, they require every inch of our present channel depth to safely operate. As the ships get bigger, they will be limited to where they can call on the East Coast; our goal is to provide deep, wide channels and safe passage to the vessels calling Virginia. This is part of the port’s larger plan to ensure a sustainable business model.”

Virginia must be prepared for the post-Panamax era, and the one thing I have learned is that is 50 feet is not enough,” Col. Olsen said. “If The Port of Virginia is not deep enough for the next generation of ships, they’ll not want to go to Virginia anymore, they will want to go to another port, and possibly another port in another nation. That is why this work is so important.”

Virginia is the only port that has federal authorization to dredge to 55 feet; that authorization was granted in 1986.

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