Norfolk – The Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to the lease agreement with the Port of Richmond and thereby unified all container cargo terminals in the Commonwealth under the VPA flag.
"This is an opportunity for the port to expand its contributions to the Commonwealth on multiple levels: having all the terminals under the VPA's direction contributes to the economic vitality of the state; it will provide congestion relief on Interstate 64 by reducing truck trips and moving some containers between Hampton Roads and Richmond by barge; and along those same lines, this will be good for the environment in terms of reduced emissions," said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA's executive director.
The takeover of operations is scheduled for July 1; the VPA will retain Port Contractors Inc., or PCI, as the terminal operating company. The agreement is for five years at $75,000 annually with a renewal option at the end of the lease term.
The VPA's terminals in Hampton Roads are linked to the Port of Richmond by a barge service that moves about 200 containers per week. Port authority officials believe that the weekly barge service can be expanded to twice weekly, possibly starting in mid-August.
"An expanded barge service has drawn interest from customers that move overweight cargo or cargo that is not time-sensitive," said J.J. Keever, the VPA's senior deputy executive director. "Bringing the Port of Richmond aboard gives us the opportunity to try some innovative things with the barge that we think will attract interest from shippers and private investment that seek to capitalize on the Port of Richmond given its proximity to I-95 and its water link to Hampton Roads."