NORFOLK – Richmond City Council on Sept. 14, approved a proposal that allows The Port of Virginia to continue to lease and operate the Port of Richmond barge terminal for the next 40 years.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said partnership with The Port of Virginia holds promise for unlocking the value of the Port of Richmond, which he said is positioned to be one of the greatest economic drivers for the Richmond region.
“In Richmond, we have studied what needs to happen at our port to bring jobs to areas that need them,” Jones said. “A long-term partnership with The Port of Virginia will help to integrate Richmond and Central Virginia into global trade networks. We are confident that with this partnership we can enhance marketing around our port, encourage potential port users to relocate here, and have existing users expand their operations – all of which translate into jobs.
“Ongoing City infrastructure investments in the port area paired with the tremendous resources The Port of Virginia can bring to bear mean this partnership is the right strategy to get results for our citizens inside and outside the gates of our port.”
Richmond City Council was unanimous in its decision to accept the port’s proposal.
“This is a forward-thinking agreement that allows The Port of Virginia to continue to develop and invest in this important maritime asset while working with the city and state on generating economic development – port users – in and around the Port of Richmond,” said Gov. Terry R. McAuliffe. “This strengthens The Port of Virginia network of terminals and will contribute to the New Virginia Economy for the next four decades.”
In July, Port of Virginia officials said publically the port was seeking a long-term lease for the city-owned marine terminal, but would agree to another five-year term if that was what the city leaders found most suitable. The VPA has leased and operated the facility since 2011, and that agreement was set to expire in summer 2016.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey L. Layne Jr. said the agreement represents an important partnership that secures the Port of Richmond’s future and puts it in the hands of the Commonwealth’s authority on maritime commerce and port operations.
“It is clear Mayor Jones and his colleagues on city council have a long-term vision for building the Port of Richmond,” Layne said. “This agreement clears the way for those on-terminal investments aimed at attracting new port users and building business that will have benefits in Richmond and across the Commonwealth.”
Under The Port of Virginia’s management, cargo volumes at the Port of Richmond have grown year over year. In fiscal year 2013, the barge service transported more than 6,400 containers. In fiscal year 2014, the barge volumes increased 49 percent with more than 9,500 containers transported. Barge volumes increased another 49 percent and finished fiscal year 2015 with more than 14,000 containers transported.
As the result of consistent increase in volumes, the barge service increased from two trips a week to three trips a week in January and now averages 200 moves per week. This steady increase in volumes is due in large part to direct marketing efforts of The Port of Virginia that have resulted in six international ocean carriers offering bills of lading directly to the Port of Richmond. The Port of Virginia has also made significant on-terminal investments including improvements to the rail infrastructure and the purchase of a new mobile harbor crane scheduled for delivery in early 2016.
“The Port of Virginia is growing and facilities like the Port of Richmond are crucial to provide the necessary access to deliver the goods coming through the port to manufacturers and consumers throughout our market,” said John F. Reinhart, the CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “Our bid on the Richmond port facility guarantees significant investment in the Port of Richmond facility over the next 40 years: We now have a clear path forward. Cargo moving up and down the James River provides a direct connection with shippers in Central Virginia and means less truck traffic on our roadways.”
The Port of Richmond is strategically positioned to capitalize on intermodal freight activity by virtue of its location on the James River, it also possesses close proximity to the major transportation corridors of I-95, I-64, I-85, and direct access to rail with CSX.
The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and the Port of Richmond. In fiscal 2013, The Port of Virginia provided more than 374,000 jobs and generated $60.3 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth.