House budget proposal includes $350 million for Norfolk channel-deepening project
The Virginia House Appropriations Committee’s two-year budget proposal includes $350 million to fund the deepening and widening of the Norfolk harbor.
That includes $20 million for the planning and preliminary engineering required for the project and $330 million in bonding authorization for construction.
That differs from the Senate’s proposed budget. The two-year budget proposal from the Senate Finance Committee includes $20 million for planning and engineering but does not include the bond authorization for construction.
The House and Senate will work out budget differences in conference committee.
The Port of Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are partners on efforts to deepen the Norfolk channel to 55 feet and dredge the Southern branch of the Elizabeth River to 45 feet.
The project scope also includes widening the channel at parts from 1,000 feet to 1,300 feet.
The project is vital to the future of the Port of Virginia and the state’s economy, says David White, vice president of the Virginia Maritime Association. The association has been a major advocate for the project.
“The message that would be sent to the global marketplace in terms of Virginia’s commitments to these projects would be resounding and reverberate across the globe,” White said Tuesday.
Ocean carriers are deploying massive vessels to help reduce costsof transporting goods. Some of these vessels are so large they require channel closures because of the huge amounts of water they displace. “Because of the need for unrestricted navigation for maritime commerce and the Navy, it’s important that we move the project along as quickly as we can,” White said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the National Economic Development benefit for the plan. A final approval from the corps is expected this spring.
The approval would allow the project to be included in the Water Resources Development Act, which would require congressional approval.
Related story: https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/tight-squeeze