A dredging project that will make the Port of Virginia the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast is now underway, according to the port officials.
Following the finalization of the contract, the project’s initial phase started Sunday, reported the Virginia Port Authority.
“The container ships are getting bigger and require more water depth to safely operate. This project, combined with all of the investments we are making at our terminals, tells the ocean carriers we are ready for the big ships,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the port.
The $78 million contract for the first phase was awarded to New Jersey-based Weeks Marine earlier in October.
Under the deal, the contractor will deepen the western side of the Thimble Shoal Channel to 55 feet, widening the channel to more than 1,400 feet in specific areas.
When dredging is complete in 2024, the commercial channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be able to simultaneously accommodate two, ultra-large container vessels.
The total cost of the Port of Virginia dredging scheme is $350 million including engineering and design.