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Port winning cargo battle, State of Region report says

Updated: October 4, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Posted: October 4, 2013

By Bill Cresenzo

The Port of Virginia's increasing share of cargo moving through the area's terminals via rail will result in more jobs and higher incomes, according to the annual State of the Region report from Old Dominion University.

Cargo that will go to customers within a 250-mile distance is typically carried by trucks, the report explains.

Beyond that distance, the Savannah, Charleston, Baltimore and New York/New Jersey ports compete for cargo that is carried by train.

The percentage of cargo moved by rail through the Port of Virginia increased to 33.1 percent in fiscal year 2013, up from 27.9 percent in fiscal year 2011, the report says.

"This means that the Port of Virginia is winning competitive battles over which ports along the East Coast will handle discretionary cargo," the report says.

"August was the first time we've handled more than 40,000 containers in a month," Rodney Oliver, the port's interim executive director, said on the Port of Virginia's blog. "We expect continued heavy rail volume for the foreseeable future and are making several operational changes to accommodate the growth."

Beyond that, the report recounts how 2012 was a "year of change and dramatic uncertainty for the Port of Virginia."

"Falling market shares and tonnage between 2008 and 2011 were among the reasons cited by Gov. Bob McDonnell when he sacked all but one member of the board of the Virginia Port Authority," the report says.

The report also cites the uncertainty the port faced when it received bids to privatize, bids that the board ultimately rejected.

Now, the report says, the Port of Virginia has "rebounded magnificently" and continued to see increases in cargo throughout 2013, setting monthly records for cargo moved.

The Port of Virginia still remains behind New York and Savannah as the third-busiest port on the East Coast. nib

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