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Rail News: Intermodal

Virginia port project to deepen, widen shipping lanes gets federal OK


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the Port of Virginia's project to widen and deepen its shipping lanes serving Norfolk Harbor.

The Corps' report represents the federal government's final approval for the project, which will take the channels to 55 deep and widen them in select areas to allow for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels, port officials said in a press release.

The report also allows the project to be included in the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which is a larger list of projects eligible for federal matching funds. Projects in the WRDA bill that receive funding are determined as part of the federal budget process.

The project will be completed in two phases. First is preliminary engineering and design, a $20 million effort expected to take 18 to 24 months. Phase II is a $330  million effort, which has a 2024 completion date.

Last month, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and both legislative chambers agreed to invest $350 million to deepen the harbor.

"It has been a three-year collaborative effort and the result will drive growth at the port and economic development and job creation throughout Virginia for decades to come," said John Reinhart, the Virginia Port Authority's chief executive officer and executive director.

The port is served by CSX, Norfolk Southern Railroad, Norfolk & Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad Co. and Commonwealth Railway.