Richmond seeks experienced port operator
The city of Richmond, Va., last Friday issued a request for proposals from companies interested in operating the city’s inland port on the James River.
The Port of Richmond is operated by PCI of Virginia LLC, which loads and unloads vessels and provides other logistics distribution services. It’s contract expires in November and the city-owned port is seeking a five-year deal, with renewal options, for a contractor that will operate the terminal, handle stevedoring and jointly market the facility.
Richmond is a shallow-draft port located about 100 miles from the open ocean. It lies adjacent to Interstate 95 and has direct rail service from mainline CSX Transportation, with indirect access to the Norfolk Southern as well. The 121-acre facility handles dry and temperature-controlled containers, as well as bulk and breakbulk cargoes.
Early last year Richmond lost its only regularly scheduled container service when ICL, a small carrier, pulled out and switched its port of call to Charleston, S.C.
Eimskip Shipping Line still calls Richmond once a month with service to Canada and Iceland, and the port has a weekly barge service that shuttles import, export and empty containers to and from the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads.
The city wants a partner to increase business at its underutilized port and turn it into a strong multimodal logistics hub, according to the solicitation posted on the city’s Web site. A terminal operator would be required to handle waterborne, road and rail intermodal cargo, warehousing and distribution services, and all labor requirements. Under the standard lease agreement proposed by the port, the contractor would make monthly payments based on tonnage, number of containers, equipment rental and other fees.
The Virginia Port Authority, a state agency that manages the gateway port in Norfolk and other facilities, has recently expressed interest in affiliating with the Port of Richmond to create an intermodal hub by leveraging its international cargo network.
It’s not clear if a new operating contract would derail any potential agreement to let the VPA control more operations in Richmond, but Richmond port officials said the solicitation is open to anyone, including Virginia International Terminals, the non-profit VPA subsidiary that operates its terminals in Hampton Roads and an inland port in Front Royal.
Bids are due Aug. 4. ' Eric Kulisch