The Port of Virginia’s® calendar-year-to-date growth is nearly 5 percent ahead of the same period last year, an increase of more than 111,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
The growth comes despite flat volumes in October, where cargo was down just more than 1 percent – 3,562 TEUs—when compared with October 2018. Still, the port in 2019 is on course to it fifth record-setting year for cargo growth, said John F. Reinhart, the CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
“We continue to see the impact of the tariffs on some of our agricultural exports that would normally be heading to China and this will continue until both sides reach a compromise on that issue,” Reinhart said. “Additionally, export markets are feeling the effect of the strong dollar. The increased cost overseas of American-made goods creates a challenge for exporters.”
“We see these as short-term issues, while our focus remains to provide our customers with best-in-class service. We are still processing significant amounts of cargo in less time than ever before. Our turn-times for motor carriers, dwell-time for rail cargo, and productivity at the berth are all trending in the right direction.”
On a calendar year-to-date basis (Jan. – Oct.) overall TEU volume is up 4.7 percent; rail, up .9 percent; Virginia Inland Port, down 10 percent; barge moves, up 17 percent; Richmond Marine Terminal volume, up 17 percent; and truck moves, up 4.4 percent. Breakbulk tonnage and vehicle units were down 14 and 17 percent, respectively.
“We are making significant progress on our overall expansion plan,” Reinhart said. “Last week, we announced the start of construction to dredge the Norfolk Harbor and commercial channels to 55 feet and widen them in selected areas. This project holds long-term benefits for Virginia, for the port, for cargo owners, our customers and the ocean carriers.”
“Safe, two-way movement of ultra-large container vessels, unrestricted by tide, is a significant competitive advantage for our port. This project and all other improvements we are making at the terminals tells the ocean carriers ‘we are ready for your big ships.’ ”
The capacity expansion project at NIT continues its progress according to schedule. There are 18 new stacks served by 36 new RMGs already in service. Work on the next phase of stack-yard construction is underway with the next group of RMGs scheduled for delivery in January 2020. When the project is complete, the terminal’s annual container capacity will have been expanded by 400,000 units, or 46 percent.
October Cargo Snapshot
• Total TEUs – 266,976, down, 1.3%
• Loaded Export TEUs – 83,557, flat
• Loaded Import TEUs – 124,142 down, 2.8%
• Total Containers – 148,242, down 1.8%
• Virginia Inland Port Containers – 2,861, down 27.7%
• Total Rail Containers – 46,729, down 2.25%
• Total Truck Containers – 95,790, down 2.5%
• Total Barge Containers – 5,723, up 16.3%
• Richmond Barge Containers – 4,006, up 22.8%