The NIT Optimization Project

The containers you see on ships, trucks, trains, and in our port hold the lifeblood of our economy. And The Port of Virginia is at the center of it all. The Port of Virginia is a critical economic engine for the Commonwealth – providing 374,000 jobs, nearly 10% of Virginia’s workforce, and generating more than $30B for the Gross State Product, nearly 7% of the total.

The Port of Virginia is handling record volumes on a regular basis, and is now operating above optimal capacity. This lack of capacity comes at a cost. Cargo, and the jobs that follow it, will move to states that can move cargo as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For the past five years, states up and down the East Coast have been systematically investing in their port infrastructure. This strategic investment has resulted in significant economic growth for other states. The Journal of Commerce confirms in a recently released report that in 2015, Virginia was outpaced in the growth in containerized imports by every other state on the East Coast. The cargo is moving to ports that have the additional capacity to handle it.

We have a chance to rectify the growth trajectory of one of Virginia’s most valuable economic engines by making strategic investments to keep pace with demand and remain competitive to attract businesses and create jobs.

The immediate opportunity to increase the port’s capacity consists of the conversion and optimization of Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), the port’s 567-acre facility in Norfolk. The project would include:

  • A new 26-lane motor carrier gate which is partially funded by a federal TIGER grant
  • Rail improvements to increase access and velocity of cargo coming and going by rail
  • The conversion of the South Yard of the terminal from a straddle carrier operation to automated Rail Mounted Gantry cranes (RMGs)
    • The use of RMGs will allow higher and denser container stacks generating additional capacity and improved level of service for motor carriers, rail providers and cargo owners

This project requires $350M in capital improvements and would create 30 automated container stacks, with the first completed by 2017 and all completed by 2019.

In addition to increasing capacity, the economic benefits to Virginians include:


These investments will return The Port of Virginia to the forefront of East Coast ports and allow the economic impact felt across the Commonwealth to continue to grow.