WASHINGTON (WAVY) – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced Friday that the Virginia Port Authority will receive $20,184,999 in federal funds to complete its Central Rail Yard (CRY) expansion project.

“The Port of Virginia is a major economic engine for the entire Commonwealth,” said the Senators. “These federal funds will support an important expansion at the Port that will increase the Port’s competitiveness and efficiency and allow it to continue to serve manufacturers and farmers in Virginia and across the country.”

The funds go along with the investments the Port has made across its two largest terminals, the Norfolk International Terminal (NIT) and Virginia International Gateway (VIG), to expand on-terminal rail capacity at NIT.

This will facilitate the construction of two new rail bundles, each with four tracks, as well as constructing a center working area for transferring and staging containers.

Central Rail Yard at Norfolk International Terminals. Photo credit: Virginia Port Authority.

“Associated lead-in tracks will incorporate turnouts and switches from the terminal’s main rail line and vehicle crossings. Additionally, the project will create a return access road that will separate rail dray traffic returning to the container yard from general truck traffic,” according to a statement from the Senators.

The Port of Virginia is considered a “major gateway for U.S. inland and Midwest markets” as it handles a higher percentage of rail cargo than any other port on the East Coast — 34% of cargo processed there arrives and departs via rail. 

The NIT CRY expansion project would double the 368,000 annual container capacity of the existing CRY. The new rail bundles are projected to generate $112.1 million in total economic benefits.

“The benefits to our customers and cargo owners will be significant,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.

The funding was awarded through the 2020 Port Infrastructure Development Discretionary Grants Program at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The total cost of the project is $44 million. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is committing $16.7 million to the project through its Rail Enhancement Fund and the port will be responsible for the $7.4 million balance.

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