Craney Island

Craney Island, the largest fully-permitted port expansion project in the United States, represents the future of The Port of Virginia. The need for additional container terminal capacity in Virginia is necessitated by global growth, an increase in containerization, 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 capture this new market share. Craney Island will maximize the natural advantages the port has with its deep water, absence of overhead restrictions and prime distribution position in the Mid-Atlantic.

After long study, the best option determined to significantly expand container capacity is through land reclamation at the Craney Island eastward expansion. The project serves a dual purpose by extending the life of Craney 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 the past 10+ years. During the next decade, The Port of Virginia will continue to plan and invest modest amounts of capital at Craney Island, in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, to construct the eastward expansion.


The terminal will be planned as a state-of-the-art automated container terminal with the capability to handle up to 50% of its total container volume by rail. The existing Commonwealth Rail Line will be extended from State Route 164 to Craney Island through a project known as the Port of Virginia Gateway. This will create dual rail access on-dock with Norfolk Southern and CSX. The terminal will be designed to serve super post-Panamax class vessels via a 50-feet 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 Craney Island 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.