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The Port of Virginia Q4 2020 Legislative Update

Dredging Update:

Thimble Shoal Channel West construction is underway

The deepening of Thimble Shoal Channel West, the first constructible element of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels deepening and widening, continues ahead of schedule and is approximately 30 percent complete. Incorporating innovative value-engineering into the contract provided Weeks Marine some flexibility with the deployment of their dredging equipment. This approach allowed Weeks to initiate construction in December 2019 using a mechanical dredge and then to deploy multiple hopper dredges over the summer prior to an environmental restriction on hopper dredging which began on September 1.

The Weeks’ workhorse hopper dredge, the Magdalene (featured at the top of the newsletter), returned after Thanksgiving and will stay through the spring. It will be supplemented by other dredges, and Weeks is currently on target to reach 80 percent completion by July 2021 – one year ahead of schedule.

Current progress of the project. Segments 1 – 3 of 8 total have been accepted to date. Segment 4 in progress.
TSC-W is currently a year ahead of schedule. The overall schedule is driven by the sequencing of hopper dredging work. TSC-E and Inner Harbor are the next constructible elements to be awarded.

Meanwhile, following Preconstruction Engineering and Design funding in FY19 and FY20, work packages for the next two constructible elements, Thimble Shoal East deepening and widening and Inner Harbor deepening, will be ready to advertise next summer pending a New Start designation and federal construction funding in the Army Corps’ FY21 Work Plan.

The dredging of Thimble Shoal East provides some potential opportunities for beneficial reuse with beach nourishment, which we are actively investigating along with the Norfolk District of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Beneficial reuse could create cost savings for all parties, as the placement of dredged material on beaches would offset the disposal costs that would otherwise be required.

We are working closely with city and federal agencies to find beneficial reuse of dredge materials - including beach nourishment projects in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

As Congress completes its action on FY21 Appropriations, the Norfolk Harbor deepening and widening requires a construction New Start designation. $78.3 million in Federal construction funding in the Army Corps’ Work Plan would fully fund the Inner Harbor contract and match the non-Federal cost share already obligated on the Thimble Shoal West contract. A minimum of $40 million would allow the segment to be bid in whole with matching non-Federal funds, but almost no non-Federal share would remain for future contracts risking the overall project completion timeline.

Moving forward now is essential to relieving the one-way navigation currently experienced with the passage of Ultra Large Container Vessels and strategic naval assets as well as providing the necessary depth to fully load both container and bulk vessels. We look forward to partnering with the Army Corps and the Norfolk District to deliver the tremendous national benefits of the Norfolk Harbor project.

Keeping the economy moving: safely, swiftly, and sustainably

The port has remained open and operating while maintaining a healthy work environment for our colleagues. It posted record breaking cargo volumes in September, October, and November despite the economic recession due to COVID-19. The Port of Virginia has been able to gain market share by providing premier customer service utilizing the new capacity from the completed expansions at Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals.

Support on legislative matters during the 2021 Legislative Session is vital to the port’s success focusing on volume growth, freight fluidity, and diversifying cargo. These efforts will be helpful in Virginia’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession to provide jobs and economic development for the Commonwealth.

The port is an economic engine for Virginia. To learn more about our impact, please click here.

Extend the sunset for The Port of Virginia Tax Incentives

To continue growing cargo volumes, The Port of Virginia requests your support to extend the sunset of the Port of Virginia Tax Incentives to 2025. Tax Incentives are crucial for the Commonwealth to remain competitive to other ports on the East Coast and are vital for site assessors and developers to consider Virginia for relocation and expansion. These incentives are a tool to realize the return on investments made at VIG and NIT to fill the newly gained capacity.

Since 2014, 189 companies have utilized the port tax incentive program.

Join the Central Virginia Transportation Authority

The Port of Virginia requests your support to be added as a non-voting member to the newly-formed Central Virginia Transportation Authority to promote freight fluidity in the region. The Richmond Marine Terminal is a major freight operator in the Central Virginia Region, and the port is a vital partner in the region to promote freight fluidity and economic development opportunities. The port is currently a non-voting member to the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission.

Transportation is the key to ensuring cargo is moving from our terminals to our customers. The Port will continue to monitor transportation revenues and all multimodal legislative efforts.

Incentivize Offshore Wind Economic Development

Offshore wind is an economic development opportunity for the Commonwealth and The Port of Virginia is well suited to be the East Coast’s hub for wind energy. The opportunity will bring jobs to the region while providing a reliable, environmentally friendly power source for all Virginians. In partnership with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the port will advocate for the development of offshore wind and incentive opportunities to bring the offshore wind industry to the Commonwealth.

Sustainability - in every sense of the word.

At The Port of Virginia, sustainability is one of our anchor values. Whether we are concentrating on our people, our communities, our commercial and financial performance or the environment, sustainability is always in focus.

We are pleased to present chapter one of the 2020 Sustainability Report. Listen as port colleagues from across the enterprise share what sustainability means to them.

In the first quarter of 2021, we will deliver additional chapters, telling the story of sustainability from many perspectives and with many voices.