VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia is poised to become the deepest port along the East Coast by late 2024. It’s a project that started in 2016 with more than a billion dollars worth of landside improvements.
In two years, with the deepening of the harbor, the Port of Virginia will eclipse New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida.
Former Virginia Gov. George Allen, who also served as a U.S. senator, was instrumental in securing funding for rail improvements that move products from the Port of Virginia to the midwest.
At the port’s 2022 State of the Port event, Allen was ebullient in describing what the commonwealth has accomplished in the last seven years at an estimated cost of $2 billion.
“It’s an economic driver for Virginia — it’s an attraction, it’s a job creator,” said Allen.
By late 2024, the Port of Virginia at 55 feet — the deepest port along the East Coast — with room to grow.
“I think we are being recognized as the one deepwater port in the country that can handle additional capacity because of the building we have done in the last six years to deepen our harbor and add capacity to our two largest terminals — and that’s just going to continue,” said John Milliken, chairman of the Port’s board of commissioners.
During a luncheon on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, business and civic leaders feasted on enviable 2021 port statistics prepared by researchers at the College of William and Mary.
Work on the waterfront has provided job security for multiple generations in Hampton Roads; labor leaders say the next generation is prepared.
“It’s not like it used to be in terms of breakbulk cargo. Then came containerization and automation. We have to adapt to it. This is what we try to teach them [young dock workers] as they come into the industry,” said Thomas Little, the international vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association/Port of Hampton Roads. His organization has 2,300 members who work on docks and in various warehouses in the region. Little says ILA members earn up to $37 an hour.
Regina Mobley: “Do you think the workforce, the young workforce, is ready for the ports of the future?”
Thomas Little: “I do, they are ready and they are well trained.”