Container Terminal Expected to Boost Portsmouth Area’s Economy

Thu November 24, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Construction is under way on a new $450-million container terminal and associated roadway improvements to support the new facility in Portsmouth, VA.

APM Terminals awarded Dulles, VA-based Alpha Corporation the contract for construction management of the new terminal while Tidewater Skanska Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA, has a $22-million contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for design and construction of the roadway improvements that will provide direct access to the terminal.

Once finished, the terminal will be one of the largest, most advanced terminals in the world, and it will be accessed by a new diamond interchange.

APM Terminals, a unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and is a leading global container terminal operator with activities in more than 30 ports worldwide. The new APM Terminals facility, situated on 300 acres (121 ha) of a 560-acre (227 ha) property, will replace the present 71-acre (29 ha) container terminal, both located on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth.

“Our present terminal in Portsmouth, VA, has been operating at near-full capacity for several years. We have no room for expansion, so it was necessary to look elsewhere for a site capable of meeting our future goals,” said Nick Taro, senior vice president for the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Ports for APM Terminals. “This is a positive step toward preparing our company for continued growth and success in the mid-Atlantic region.”

The new terminal is not only bigger in size it also is larger in its scope. The project is considered the country’s first privately-developed container terminal as well as one of the biggest, most advanced terminals in the world. What’s more, the terminal is said to be the single largest private investment in the history of the Hampton Roads area, and it is expected to give it a boost as a leading East Coast port.

The new terminal, with more than 4,000 sq. ft. (372 sq m) of deepwater berth space — four times the current amount, is seen as a solution to challenges faced by road, rail and port infrastructures. The challenges result from expected military and government cargo growth, as world trade is expected to double by 2020.

The Army Corps of Engineers gave APM Terminals permission to build the new marine terminal after the company agreed to pay $6.5 million in environmental mitigation fees. Dredging for the project began in August 2004. More recently, Alpha Corporation, a professional engineering/construction management firm, has started site work on the project.

In a separate design-build contract, Tidewater Skanska will be performing design and construction of roadway improvements to support the new APM Terminals facility. APM Terminals is contributing $3.25 million for the road work contract, and VDOT is supplying the remainder of the contract amount.

Tidewater Skanska is providing construction and construction management services, design-build coordination, and quality-control and quality assurance services. According to Bud Morgan, VDOT’s construction project manager, this contract is “VDOT’s first ever design-build road project.”

The improvements, which began in July, will provide better access to the terminal from State Route 164, support increased traffic volumes associated with the new terminal and minimize truck traffic on local streets that serve the adjacent neighborhoods.

“All of the terminal traffic will access the terminal from 164 and minimize the traffic in the local neighborhoods,” Morgan said.

Improvements to the roadway include a new diamond interchange on Route 164, also known as Western Freeway, between Cedar Lane and West Norfolk Road. As part of this interchange, two overpass bridges and four ramps will be built. There will also be a slight modification to the existing Route 164/Cedar Lane interchange.

“Presently, there are two interchanges in the area along Route 164,” said Morgan, “and we’re putting one into the middle that will tie right into the APM Terminal’s main entrance.”

In addition, Tidewater Skanska will relocate access to Coast Guard Boulevard from West Norfolk Road to Cedar Lane and will construct a new signalized intersection at this location. This aspect of the contract will accommodate rail access to the terminal site and to nearby Craney Island.

Another aspect of the roadway work involves minor modifications to Wild Duck Lane and Wyatt Road. Wild Duck Lane will be relocated to APM Boulevard and Wyatt Road will be partially reconstructed. Both are in the vicinity of the proposed interchange.

Presently, Tidewater Skanska has subcontracted English Construction Company, Inc. of Lynchburg, VA, to perform site work and earth moving on the project.

“There is quite a bit of earthwork because we have to raise 164,” Morgan said.

Workers are in the process of building the entrance roadway. Afterward, the ramps for the diamond interchange will be built, where vehicles will travel while the earthwork and bridge is being completed in the median.

Both contracts are on schedule and should be completed in 2007. CEG

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