NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Dredging at the Port of Virginia has started nearly two-and-a-half years early.
The Port of Virginia announced Monday that dredging began Sunday in an effort to make the port the deepest on the East Coast.
The dredging will deepen the western side of Thimble Shoal Channel, which leads into Norfolk Harbor, to 56 feet.
“This project, combined with all of the investments we are making at our terminals, tells the ocean carriers ‘We are ready for your big ships,'” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “The container ships are getting bigger and require more water depth to safely operate and we are committed to working with our customers to meet their needs today, tomorrow and decades from now.”
The port has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure a final early approval, the Port of Virginia wrote in its announcement. It also had the support of elected officials on the state and federal level.
Having a channel wide and deep enough for two-way traffic for ultra-large container ships will give Virginia a competitive edge.
“The cargo flowing across our terminals is valuable to its owners and the Virginia economy, so we are investing in those systems that ensure the efficient, reliable and safe movement of cargo and ships to and from our port,” Reinhart said. “We are positioning ourselves to be East Coast’s premier trade gateway. Deep, wide channels will support many Virginia businesses and fuel cargo growth, job creation and economic investment across the Commonwealth.”
New Jersey-based Weeks Marine will do the first phase of work to the tune of $78 million.
The total cost of the project is $350 million including engineering and design.