Norfolk – The future of The Port of Virginia will benefit from today's passage of the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill as language in that legislation, among other things, clears the way for the state to take ownership of the land designated for development of Craney Island Marine Terminal.
Work is progressing on the project's first phase, which is the most complicated and time-consuming part of the project because it involves creating a 512-acre addition to Craney Island. That addition, called the eastward expansion, will serve as the foundation for the marine terminal and provide additional dredge material disposal. Today's passage of the WRDA bill clears the way for the federal government to transfer ownership of 320 acres of the eastward expansion site that it owns to the state; the balance is already owned by the state.
"The development of Craney Island is a very important component in future of The Port of Virginia," said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. "Having the ownership of the land transferred to the Commonwealth of Virginia from the federal government via this legislation puts the project in the state's hands. There are multiple steps in the process to see this project through to completion and this is a critical one."
Presently, the eastward expansion site falls under the control of the US Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the 2,500-acre Craney Island Dredge Material Management Area in Portsmouth. The Corps has been the port's partner in supporting, designing and building the eastward expansion project for more than a decade. In addition, the project has had long-time support within Virginia's congressional delegation.
"The continued hard work done by Virginia's congressional delegation on this and other parts of the Craney Island East Ward Expansion project over the years has been resolute and supportive; the delegation has served the Commonwealth's interests and we are appreciative of their support," Reinhart said.
Currently, work on the project is focused upon building the foundations to the dikes that will create the perimeter of the eastward expansion. Once that phase is finished, material from various harbor dredging and improvement projects will be pumped into the expansion area and raise the floor of the Elizabeth River.
"The effort is to develop the land and once we have that completed, the port will have the site necessary to build a new marine when the demand requires," Reinhart said. "The eastward expansion will be several years to completion."