Craney Island

The future Craney Island Marine Terminal is the largest fully-permitted port expansion project on the east coast. The need for additional container terminal capacity in Virginia is necessitated by global growth, the arrival of larger vessels and expansion in international trade. Widening of the Panama Canal and the potential future influx of cargo to the East Coast means that The Port of Virginia will work to position itself with additional capacity to be the front-runner, among competing ports, to take advantage of these new opportunities. The future Craney Island Marine Terminal will maximize the natural advantages the port has with its deep water, absence of overhead restrictions and prime distribution position along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

After long study, the best option determined to significantly expand the port’s container capacity is through an eastward expansion of the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA) into the Elizabeth River. The project serves a dual purpose by extending the life of the CIDMMA as a dredge disposal area and creating land that will double the capacity of the port to handle containers. The Craney Island eastward expansion has been in the planning and design phase for more than 15 years. During the next decade, The Port of Virginia will match federal investments to construct the eastward expansion in phases, so that the land is available when needed for port expansion.


The future Craney Island Marine Terminal will be a state-of-the-art container facility with the capability to handle up to 50 percent of its total container volume by rail. The existing Commonwealth Rail Line will be extended from State Route 164 to the terminal through a project known as the Craney Island Connector. This will create dual rail access on-dock with Norfolk Southern and CSX. The terminal will be designed to handle ultra-large container vessels via a 55-foot navigation channel, direct interchange to the interstate highway system, and double-stack intermodal rail service. The terminal will be planned as a semi-automated operation, with a mix of manual and automated container handling equipment.

The construction of future Craney Island Marine Terminal will increase container throughput on the west side of the Elizabeth River, away from the region’s most congested tunnels and bridges, and in close proximity to rail facilities and distribution locations.