Container throughput in the Port of Virginia in 2011 increased by a slim 1.2 percent year-over-year, as a Chinese ban on many export commodities that historically go through the port kept traffic growth down.
“Posting positive numbers under those conditions tells me that 2012 is going to be different,” said Jerry Bridges, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We grew in spite of a weak economy and some larger trade issues that we had absolutely no control over that an adverse impact on our volumes.”
Bridges said his optimism for this year is based on the growing interest in the VPA’s barge service to and from Richmond, and CSX Transportation’s new on-dock rail operation. He is also encouraged by the expansion of rail reach into the mid-South and the Middle West by Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX.
In addition, the VPA has been in discussions with some ocean carriers that are considering a change in their East Coast port rotations in order to take advantage of the port’s deep water, Bridges said. The agency operates the container terminal in Norfolk and Portsmouth.
The port handled $194 million worth of exports to China last year, making the Asian powerhouse Virginia’s largest export market. The VPA’s year-end trade balance average for 2011 was 59 percent exports and 41 percent imports.
Vehicle traffic grew 35.6 percent year-over-year, while breakbulk shipments rose 36.9 percent in the same period.