The effort to make the Norfolk Harbor wider, deeper and safer took a significant step forward last Friday as the plan outlining the project’s national economic benefits was approved by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take its next step forward.
“This is an infrastructure project that holds value for Virginia, the national economy and national defense,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
“The long-term economic benefits of this project include job creation, economic investment and the efficient flow of goods to Virginians, to multiple markets in the Mid-Atlantic and into the nation’s Heartland. Additionally, there are benefits to the U.S. Navy and all the users of the harbor.”
The latest decision allows the wider, deeper, safer project to move forward to its final review by USACE in June.
The Virginia Port Authority said in its release that in anticipation of a positive outcome of that review, $20 million has been included in the pending state budget to immediately begin preliminary engineering and design work on the project.
In June 2015, the port and the USACE’s Norfolk District office began collaborating on the wider, deeper, safer effort to prepare the port for the next generation of container vessels.
The port’s channels and harbor are already 50 feet deep and the largest container ships in the Atlantic trade are calling Virginia.
According to the official announcement, deepening to 55 feet and widening the channel to 1,300 feet will allow for the big ships to load to their limit and make way for two-ship traffic.