Virginia’s Norfolk Harbor NED plan approved
The Port of Virginia has received the green light from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for its plan to widen and deepen Norfolk Harbor.
The leadership of the American federal agency and army command approved the National Economic Development (NED) benefit plan for the project in late January.
These plans estimate the value to the US of large civil works programmes that will be funded in part by the federal government, with these initiatives’ value expressed in terms of each venture’s contributions to NED benefits and federal government revenues.
The decision permits the project to progress to its final review by the military body in June.
In anticipation of a positive outcome of this assessment, $20m has already been set aside in Virginia’s pending state budget for the immediate commencement of preliminary engineering and design work for the harbour venture.
Commenting on the initiative, John Reinhart, chief executive and executive director of Virginia Port Authority, said: “This is an infrastructure project that holds value for Virginia, the national economy and national defence.”
“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 US Navy and all the users of the harbour.”
“This positive outcome is the result of collaboration within our agency, with The Port of Virginia and the many stakeholders that rely on this critical infrastructure,” said Colonel Jason Kelly, commander for the Norfolk District in the USACE.
The project explained
The port and the USACE’s Norfolk District office started collaborating on the project, which is to prepare the port for the next generation of container vessels, in June 2015.
The port’s channels and harbour are already 50 ft deep, with the Atlantic trade’s biggest container ships calling on Virginia.
Deepening the channel to 55 ft and widening it to 1,300 ft will allow the large ships to load to their limit, as well as permitting two-ship traffic.
“When one of the big vessels passes through the harbour today, there is a temporary closure of the
channel to all other commercial ship traffic,” Mr Reinhart said.
“Widening the channel allows for two-way traffic, increases the pace of commerce and makes way for the expeditious movement of Navy vessels in a time of need.”
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