Freight News, Sea

Port of Virginia Sees Further Imports Growth

[ September 18, 2020   //   ]

The Port of Virginia’s® cargo volumes are continuing their rebound and in August grew by more than 26,000 units when compared with July. The amount of cargo moving across the port’s terminals in August was 247,349 TEUs and is an increase of 26,301 TEUs, or nearly 12 percent, when compared with July.
Loaded imports showed the biggest area of growth: 121,914 TEUs in August vs 105,692 TEUs in July.
In a year-on-year comparison, August volume was off by more than 10,327 TEUs when compared with August 2019.
“We are seeing some green shoots and trending in the right direction and we must temper that with the fact that the trade environment is very fluid and unpredictable,” said John F. Reinhart CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “This month-on-month growth should continue through September, but it is hard to predict what volumes will look like in late fall. What is important is that there are fewer blank sailings, we have new services coming online and some extra loaders (vessels) to handle the increasing cargo will be announced. The number of loaded import containers is also growing, and these are all good signs.”
As a result of the growth, the port on Aug. 17 began opening gates at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and Virginia International Gateway (VIG) at 6 am: during the height of the pandemic the port moved its gate-opening at NIT and VIG to 7 am (from 5 am) as a cost-saving measure. On Sept. 12, the port began offering a five-hour gate at VIG and access to the Portsmouth Chassis Yard on Saturdays from 7 am until noon; the Saturday gate program concludes Nov. 21.
“The added operating time allows for more reservations under TRS (Truck Reservation System), and the Saturday gate provides more access to the terminals to motor carriers and cargo owners,” Reinhart said. “These moves help to keep our cargo flow fluid and efficient.”
Also in August, the port’s growing barge operation set a new monthly volume mark having handled 6,076 containers, which is an increase of 17.5 percent when compared with last August. A large part of that growth is attributable to the ongoing success of the thrice-weekly barge service connecting Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT) and the Norfolk Harbor.
The RMT barge service moved 3,799 containers, which is an increase of more than 9 percent over August 2019.
“The investments we are making at RMT are yielding returns,” Reinhart said. “This is a unique operation that pushes our reach inland by nearly two hours and brings the cargo closer to its owners. It also provides real value to commuters and the environment because it helps to reduce overall truck volume on I-64, carbon emissions, and wear-and-tear on the roads.”
The port continues to focus on the health and safety of its team and its labor partners by emphasizing mask use, social distancing and workplace cleaning. Temperature screenings for those entering the terminals and working from home, when possible, continue as well.