Lawmakers highlight importance of Norfolk Harbor dredging

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman, Gerry Connolly, Morgan Griffith, Don Beyer, A. Donald McEachin, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, Ben Cline, Jennifer Wexton and Bob Good have requested that the Biden administration prioritize the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project by including at least $83.7 million for the project in the President’s FY22 budget request. 

In a letter to President Joe Biden, the members stressed the importance of ensuring that the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project has the federal funding it needs to proceed as scheduled. 

The Project is expected to expand Norfolk Harbor’s shipping channels and ensure that larger commercial and military vessels can continue to pass through the Norfolk Harbor safely, especially in light of the rapid growth of vessels entering maritime trade.

“Regrettably, the congressionally authorized Federal share of this project has yet to be funded. While the Port has been able to use non-Federal funds to keep the project on schedule, any further delay in Federal funding will delay the project and risk increasing project costs,” wrote the lawmakers. 

“In order to maintain the schedule, the project requires a New Start designation and $83.7 million in Federal construction funding in FY22 to fully fund the Inner Harbor contract and match the non-Federal cost share already obligated on the Thimble Shoal West contract. The Work Package for the Inner Harbor will be ready as soon as Federal funds are available, as the Norfolk District was prepared to move forward in FY21.”

In their letter, the lawmakers also stressed the importance of ensuring that this project is able to proceed on schedule in order to support operations at the Port of Virginia, which is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs, $92 billion in spending, and more than seven and a half percent of Virginia’s Gross State Product.

The Port of Virginia is a commercial and economic engine for the United States and continues to play an integral role in American foreign and domestic commerce and trade.

Federal investment into this project will allow the Port to remain a prominent economic hub for the nation and a key player in domestic and international trade by generating more than $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits, the lawmakers said.

Photo: USACE