by Paula C. Squires
The Virginia Port Authority wants to purchase more land for Virginia’s largest port. The authority will ask its board of commissioners today to authorize spending about $18 million for two projects, including the purchase of 33 acres for train-assembly operations across the street from Norfolk International Terminals (NIT).
The land, near NIT’s north gate, is on the opposite side of Hampton Boulevard. Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad is selling the property for $5.1 million. The deal would create a staging area to help build trains, moving that operation off NIT property and freeing up space for more cargo. “These trains can be up to two miles long,” says Joe Harris, media relations manager for the Virginia Port Authority.
By having its own site for train assembly, the port would save on switching fees paid to the railroad company. Plus, it would no longer have to push trains across Hampton Boulevard, adding to traffic congestion. Eventually, the state plans to move the railroad tracks off Hampton Boulevard to an overpass above the road, says Harris.
The second and more expensive project would require about $13.4 million to build additional container storage space on existing land at NIT’s south end. The authority wants to grade and pave about 15 acres, says Harris, as part of a renovation plan that has been ongoing since 2003.
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