One of the few bright spots for the local economy - the housing market is in a virtual stand still with foreclosures doubling since last year and the huge Norfolk Ford plant has closed - other than the cushion provided by the vast military population, is the new port facility opening in Portsmouth, across the river from Norfolk. While the increased port traffic and revenues generated thereby will be welcomed, the local highway system will be even more overloaded and inadequate. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot (http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=131803&ran=127981&tref=po):
When the new $450 million port terminal officially opens in his city on Friday, Mayor James Holley will be all smiles. “That’ll be the biggest and the best ribbon we’ve cut since 1752,” Holley said. That was the year Portsmouth was founded.
APM Terminals Virginia will add many more container-hauling trucks to city roads and send out road-choking trains multiple times each week. Its bright lights and noise may disturb neighbors in West Norfolk and Hunter s Point. But it also will pump at least $2 million a year into Portsmouth’s tax coffers. It will bring the city new jobs and bragging rights as it becomes the port epicenter of Hampton Roads.
APM Terminals spent about seven years developing the cargo container terminal, which sits on a large tract north of Va. 164 in Churchland. It replaces a far smaller facility leased from the Virginia Port Authority next to Portsmouth Marine Terminal. It is expected to increase the number of containers the port of Hampton Roads can handle each year by 50 percent.
That’s just the beginning for Portsmouth. The APM terminal, which has room for expansion, likely will be followed by the Port Authority’s planned $2.2 billion terminal on Craney Island. The first phase of that complex is slated to open in 2017. “It will make us the city in Hampton Roads when you think of the maritime industry and port-related activities,” said Steven L. Lynch, Portsmouth’s economic development director.
The facility is projected to add 3,000 truck trips a day onto the state highway, which connects the Midtown Tunnel and the Martin Luther King Freeway with northern Suffolk and Interstate 664, said Richard Hartman, Portsmouth’s city engineer.