Weeks Marine began dredging at the Port of Virginia kicked off on December 1.
“This project, combined with all of the investments we are making at our terminals, tells the ocean carriers ‘we are ready for your big ships,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said.
The port said its preparation for the project, its collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the support of the elected officials on the state and federal levels were factors in securing final, early approval.
In October, the port and New Jersey-based Weeks Marine finalized the contract for the first phase of work. The contract for the first phase is $78 million and the total cost of the project, including the preliminary engineering and design work, is $350 million.
The work will deepen the western side of Thimble Shoal Channel, which leads into the Norfolk Harbor, to 56 feet. When dredging is complete in 2024, the commercial channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be able to simultaneously accommodate two, ultra-large container vessels.
In 2015, the deepening effort got underway when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the port agreed to share the cost of evaluating the benefits of dredging the Norfolk Harbor to a depth beyond 50 feet.