March volumes surge at Port of Virginia
In the wake of winter storms, the Port of Virginia set a record in March for cargo handled at its terminals.
The port moved 229,000 TEUs in March, which was 16 percent ahead of March 2014. TEUs stand 20-foot equivalent units.
Some of the increase was cargo left over from February, when the port had to close four days because of winter storms. The weather compounded crowded terminals, forcing major delays for motor carriers.
“That amount of volume, some of which was carried over from February, presented a challenge to our team at every phase of the operation, and it was most acute at Virginia International Gateway, where our operational consistency was overtaken by sheer TEU volume: our delivery of service at the VIG gate for the first three weeks of March was unacceptable,” John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said in a statement.
The volume forced the port’s operations team to take a series of measures to address the volume to reduce backups at its terminals. The interim remedies included steps to reduce density in the stacks, a temporary embargo on empty containers arriving by rail, the addition of more cargo handling equipment and extended operating hours at the gates. These steps did help to alleviate the congestion, Reinhart said.
In March the port’s total for truck moves was up 17 percent; rail containers, up 17 percent; Virginia Inland Port volume, up 3 percent; barge containers, down 6 percent; and vehicle units, up 148 percent. Thus far into the calendar year, the port’s TEU volume is up 10 percent compared with the same period last year.
“Our truck volumes did not let up any in March; we processed more than 81,400 truck moves despite the challenges,” Reinhart said. “We understand the hardship this period put on our motor carriers and customers, and we are grateful for their patience through what has been a very difficult period.”