Norfolk – The beginning phase of work on the eastward expansion of Craney Island is underway as the spill barge, pictured above, is in position and spreading dredge material to develop the outline for the dike system needed to support the expansion.
The spill barge takes dredge material and distributes it evenly – much like a sprinkler -- along what will be the foundation footprint for the project's dike system. To complete the work, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock designed and built the spill barge, a unique piece of equipment that allows layers of sand to be evenly deposited on the river floor. Over the next four to five months, the work done by the spill barge will raise the floor of the Elizabeth River in the area of the work.
The dredge material used in this phase of construction is being taken from the Atlantic Ocean Channel maintenance dredging and brought to the worksite. The Liberty Island hopper dredge, which can carry more than 5,000 cubic yards of material, dredges sand from the Atlantic Ocean Channel and brings it to Craney Island. Normally, the material from the maintenance dredging and other similar projects would be deposited on Craney Island, but the eastward expansion project will recycle material for use in construction.
In September 2010 the Virginia Port Authority awarded that first construction job for the eastward expansion was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co.; in December the company began its work on the first stage of the south and division cross dikes. The work consists of dredging 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from the Atlantic Ocean Channel and building the initial sand lifts required to construct both the south and division cross dikes.
The eastward expansion is the first step in the construction of Craney Island Marine Terminal, which will be the fourth state-owned, deepwater marine cargo terminal. The terminal will be built in phases and the first phase is building the 600-acre site on which the terminal will sit.
"Building the land, so to speak, is the most demanding part of this project," said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA's executive director. "We have to get the site ready so when the demand hits, we can begin ordering cranes and pouring concrete for the terminal, which comparatively, are the easy parts."
Last September the VPA awarded two contracts worth a combined $30.9 million for this phase of work. The total cost to complete the 600-acre site is $700 million and that will be done through a 50-50 cost-share agreement with the federal government. The projected cost for completion of multi-phase terminal project is $2.2 billion.