With the deepest shipping channels on the US East Coast, modern terminals, expanding rail connections to critical markets and ample capacity to expand The Port of Virginia continues to position itself to becoming the coast's leading port. Through the first seven months of 2012, trade at the port is up 5.8 percent when compared with the same period last year.
Since 2006 Virginia has 1) completed its 50-foot channel project; 2) had the opening of the Heartland Corridor, a direct, double-stack rail connection to Chicago; 3) taken over operations APM Terminals in Portsmouth, the most technologically-advanced container terminal in the Western Hemisphere; 4) completed the renovation of the North Berth at Norfolk International Terminals; and 5) broken ground at Craney Island in preparation for construction of the fourth state-owned marine terminal.
Also in early 2012 CSX opened its rail ramp at APM Terminals, meaning that terminal now has rail service by both of the East's Class I railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern.
"In Virginia the investment has been made," said Jerry A. Bridges, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). "There is no talk here about what we need to do. We're in a very fortunate position to be able to go out and market hard assets. No other East Coast port has the collective assets that we do and this is what sets us apart."
This spring Virginia's 50-foot-deep shipping channels were put to the test when a large container vessel departed the Hampton Roads Harbor drawing 48.5 feet of water. The deep water, expanding rail connections and efficiency at the terminals have gotten the attention of the ocean carriers, some of which have shifted their port rotations in favor of Virginia.
The VPA owns and operates an inland intermodal terminal named Virginia Inland Port that is in Warren County. The Port of Richmond, an up-river barge terminal strategically located on Interstate 95, also falls under the VPA's flag.
Financial ratings agencies have taken note of the progress being made at The Port of Virginia. In its analysis published in May, Fitch Ratings affirmed its long-term 'A' rating of the VPA's outstanding port facilities revenue and refunding bonds and based on its overall financial picture, gave the agency a "stable" rating outlook.