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Port of Virginia sets all-time record for July

Volumes rise 32.6% year-over-year

CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of Virginia in May. (Photo: Courtesy of Virginia Port Authority)

The Port of Virginia had its best July on record, with the Norfolk-headquartered complex handling more than 293,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, a nearly 33% increase year-over-year.

July’s volume was also the second-highest for 2021. The highest occurred in May, when the port handled 315,000 TEUs. The port has been handling more than 282,000 TEUs per month on average in 2021.

Loaded container volumes grew for both imports and exports. Loaded export TEUs rose 18.2% to 81,086, while loaded import TEUs grew 35.3% to 142,963.

Movement of empty containers also was higher year-over-year: Empty export TEUs increased 47.3% to 66,842, and empty import TEUs rose to 2,254 from 1,359 in July 2020.

As the Port of Virginia looks to the second half of the calendar year, the port authority, like other East Coast ports, expects volumes to grow as the peak shipping season approaches.

“August’s cargo volume, thus far, is strong. We are at the beginning of peak season and we are anticipating a busy retail season,” said Stephen A. Edwards, Virginia Port Authority CEO and executive director. 

“As we move into this busy period we’re going to remain agile. Our customers and the cargo owners using The Port of Virginia will see us adjust operations as necessary to meet demand, maintain efficiency and to ensure the unimpeded flow of cargo across our terminals. It is important to keep focusing on our delivery of service. Our performance at the berth, the truck gates and rail ramps is absolutely world class. The metrics reflect an operation that is providing real value to customers and the cargo owners. The goal is to be even better,” Edwards said. 

A number of projects are underway at the Port of Virginia to increase capacity and enhance infrastructure. Those projects include dredging on the Thimble Shoal West, which will resume in November and will have roughly 60 days of work remaining; an expansion of the NIT Central Rail Yard to increase its capacity to process rail cargo; the installation of two new ship-to-shore cranes in the first quarter of 2022; and the doubling of rail operation capacity at the Virginia Inland Port, with work expected to start in 2022.

A second phase of dredging at Thimble Shoal East will begin in early 2022 with anticipated completion in 2024. Dredging at Thimble Shoal East and West will deepen the port’s channels to 55 feet and enable the channel to accommodate two ultra large container vessels simultaneously. 

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.