The Trump administration has approved the Port of Virginia’s Wider, Deeper, Safer project to deepen and widen the Norfolk Harbor’s commercial shipping channels paving the way for the port to become the deepest port on the U.S East Coast.
Under the plan, included in the President of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, the port’s inner harbor’s commercial channels will be dredged to 55 feet deep and the channel in the Chesapeake Bay to 56 feet deep.
Further, the channel will be widened to as much as 1,400 feet in select areas, which will allow for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels. The project’s target completion date is 2025.
“Virginia’s inclusion in this legislation will ultimately provide us the means to better serve our ocean carrier customers by allowing them to sail the biggest ships in their fleets to Virginia,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
“When Wider, Deeper, Safer is coupled with the USD 700 million investment we are making to expand capacity at our main container terminals, cargo owners throughout the Mid-Atlantic and the nation’s Heartland benefit because the speed of exports and imports flowing through Virginia will increase.”
The project’s engineering and design is underway with construction scheduled to begin in January 2020.
The Port of Virginia received the final authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move ahead with the Wider, Deeper, Safer project in July 2018, enabling it to be included in in the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill.
The project will be executed in two phases. The preliminary engineering and design (USD 20 million) is the first phase and is expected to take 18-24 months and the dredging phase (USD 330 million), which has a 2024 target completion date.