The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) said work has commenced on a $320 million expansion project at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) container terminal in Portsmouth, which will nearly double the terminal's annual cargo handling capability.
The project is the first of two large-scale expansion projects that, together with a project at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), will increase the port’s overall annual container handling capacity by 40 percent, or 1 million container lifts by 2020.
“This is an important day in the history of the Port of Virginia; it is an important milestone in our effort to increase sustainability and to prepare this port for what is to come,” VPA CEO and Executive Director John F. Reinhart said. “We are adding capacity now so we can handle the cargo that will be coming to us in the very near future. The big ships are here - more are on the way - and they are carrying significant amounts of containers and Virginia will be ready to accommodate that volume.”
This morning, survey crews began the preparatory work to expand the rail/container stacking yard at VIG. From a wider perspective, today’s work signals the start of the effort to double the existing container capacity at VIG. The overall project includes expanding the container stacking yard, doubling the on-dock rail operation and expanding the truck gate.
The cost of the work will be shared by Alinda Capital Partners and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the owners of VIG.
“The Port of Virginia is investing for the long-term and we will be able to service the vessels of any ocean carrier here at what will be one of the most modern and efficient container terminals in North America for decades to come,” said Virginia Gov. Terry R. McAuliffe.
The wharf work will create new berth space, which will be used to handle larger containerships.
The port said a longer wharf will make way for four new Suez-class container cranes. The wharf project begins March 15 and is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2018.
Once complete, VIG will have the capacity to handle 1.2 million containers per year, compared to the current 650,000 containers per year.
Originally, VIG was built as a private terminal by the APM Terminals (APMT) arm of Maersk Group, and opened in 2007. For many years, VIG was the most automated container terminal in the U.S.
In 2010, APMT leased the terminal to the port authority, and in 2014, APMT sold the facility to investment funds owned by Alinda Capital Partners and USS, and they renamed the facility to Virginia International Gateway.
Last fall, the VPA and VIG signed a new lease with Alinda and USS, which extended the lease to 2065.
In July, the port will begin work on another large capacity project: the expansion of the south stack/container yard at NIT.
That $350 million project will allow the port to create greater density for cargo at NIT and expand annual capacity there by 400,000 containers.
The container stack yard at NIT will be reconfigured and it will be served by 60 new rail-mounted gantry cranes. The project will be completed by 2020.