NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Local and federal authorities have reached an agreement that funnels federal funding to the ongoing construction of the Port of Norfolk.

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The agreement, signed Friday morning, means the federal government will financially invest in the construction effort to widen and deepen the commercial shipping channels and Norfolk Harbor.

“The importance of this moment in the evolution of The Port of Virginia cannot be overstated,”
said Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards. “This is a modern, twenty-first-century port and when you couple our land-based assets and capabilities with the deepest and widest channels — and safest harbor — on the entire US East Coast, you have a recipe for success here for decades to come.”

The Port of Virginia and the US Army Corps of Engineers signed the agreement in a ceremony that was attended by several public officials. That includes US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Shalanda D. Young, director
of the US Office of Management and Budget, US Reps Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA),
Jamie A. Pinkham, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Virginia Transportation Secretary
W. Shepphard “Shep” Miller III, Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas and Virginia Del. Robert Bloxom Jr.

The signing of the PPA authorizes the flow of more than $225 million in federal funding that has already been secured for the Norfolk Harbor Deepening and Widening Project.

The new funds are being used to increase the depth and width of the commercial shipping channels from the Atlantic Ocean and into the harbor. Once completed, the channel will be at least 55-feet deep and wide enough to safely accommodate two-way traffic of ultra-large container ships.

Officials say the construction is further made possible with a $72 million federal investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The federal government and the port agreed to a 50-50 cost share of the project at its outset in 2015 when the Army Corps began evaluating the economic value of a deeper and wider Norfolk Harbor and commercial shipping channel.

The dredging began in December 2019, nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule.

“I was proud to join my colleagues in securing an additional investment of more than $69 million in the
port to expand economic opportunities for Coastal Virginia, the Commonwealth, and the country,” said Luria.
“This agreement today will strengthen the public-private partnership that supports the Port of Virginia and ensures that the Port remains a vital economic engine.”

Others agree.

“This historic investment through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow more goods to move faster through the port, drive significant new economic opportunities to Norfolk, and help bring down costs for families across Virginia and the country,” said OMB Director Young. “This [investment] is in addition to the $150 million the Biden-Harris Administration is providing to protect families and businesses in Norfolk and across the region from the impacts of climate change by building floodwalls, storm surge barriers, levees, and other flood-control measures. I want to thank Senator Warner, Representative Scott, and Representative Luria for their partnership in securing these federal investments to keep this community safe.”

The materials that are dredged out of the port will be used at local beaches.

“Over the course of the project, we’ll dredge a large volume of sands – millions of cubic yards,” said Keith Lockwood, Norfolk District Water Resources Division chief. “The US Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Port Authority are collaborating with the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach to maximize the beneficial use of this dredged sand by placing it along beaches for additional coastal protection.”