Expansion planned for Virginia ports; CEO announces plans for system capacity increase

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — The Inland Port of Virginia could see some upgrades as part of a planned expansion of the port system that could nearly double its capacity within the next three years.

The Port of Virginia — including the main port on the harbor of Hampton Roads, the Richmond Marine Terminal and the Inland Port in Warren County — can process about 650,000 containers per year.

Port CEO John Reinhart discussed the expansion plans during the State of the Port address last week at the Warren County Government Center. He said it would increase system capacity to nearly 1.2 million.

Reinhart said he hoped to begin the process by fall 2017.

Through expansion, Reinhart said the port is attempting to maximize its positive impact on the state and operate more efficiently.

The Port of Virginia is going to submit a request for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the federal government in order to fund the expansion, Reinhart said.

If the grant is approved, the federal government would match the port's funding efforts. Reinhart said that would be the only TIGER grant application the Port of Virginia submits this year.

Port spokesman Joe Harris said that the Inland Port has attracted 39 manufacturers and distribution centers to the Warren County region, and provided more than 8,000 jobs. Reinhart said the Port of Virginia is adding jobs every day.

Some of the Inland Port's customers include Home Depot, Family Dollar, Rubbermaid, Toys 'R' Us and Red Bull.

The Inland Port processed about 37,000 container units last year, which was a 1.1-percent increase compared to the previous year, Harris said.

Reinhart said last year the entire port system handled more volume than ever. The port ships an average of 200,000 twenty-foot units (TEU) every month and 2.5 million TEUs last year.

The Port of Virginia, which is the third largest on the east coast, has increased revenue every year since 2011, and is approaching total annual revenue of $1 billion, Reinhart said.

Reinhart is in his second year as the CEO of the Virginia Port Authority.

Sen. Mark Obenshain said it has been a successful transition in which the port has been reorganized and positioned for the future.

Obenshain said the State of the Port is a good tradition to raise awareness and help citizens understand the port's importance to economic stability and prosperity in Virginia. He said there was support across party lines when the General Assembly approved a $350 million investment in the Port of Virginia, the largest investment in the state's history.

"We look forward to being good stewards of the money and maximizing the yield," Reinhart said.

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