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Posted 6/18/2012

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By Allison Mall
Virginia Port Authority


The Virginia Port Authority and the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently signed an agreement reaffirming Craney Island’s Eastward Expansion project.

Jerry Bridges, VPA executive director, and Col. Paul Olsen, Norfolk District commander, signed the Project Partnership Agreement for the Eastward Expansion, which formalized the federal/state partnership and cost-sharing agreement between the two agencies. The agreement was originally authorized by Congress in 2007’s Water Resources Development Act.

“This is truly a momentous time for the Port of Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole,” Bridges said during the signing ceremony. “The expansion of the Panama Canal will play very large in the increased volumes that move through our port, and Craney Island will be key in Virginia capturing a bigger share of that cargo.”

A recent USACE report provided verification that the future benefits of the project outweigh the costs. An update to the 2006 Chief’s Report, this analysis used the most recent commodity and terminal capacity projections, vessel operating costs, and land-side transportation cost data to determine that the project’s projected National Economic Development, or NED, benefits have nearly doubled, to $16 billion a year, with a Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of 6.2:1 that affirms the federal interest in the project.

The benefits to the nation upon the opening of Craney Island Marine Terminal have increased: since the 2006 report, the facility was redesigned with automated cargo-handling technology like that at APM Terminals in Portsmouth, Va. By using the most technologically advanced equipment available, the facility’s projected cargo-handling capacity will double, to nearly five million containers per year.

This capacity increase will extend the life of Craney Island as a dredged material placement area for Norfolk District and generate NED benefits through transportation cost savings created by handling cargo destined for the Port of Virginia that, without the new facility’s extra capacity, would have to use an alternative port.