September 09, 2013

Sens. Kaine And Warner Urge Federal Funding For Craney Island's Eastward Expansion

Port expansion “updates critical infrastructure, drives economic development & creates jobs"

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner are urging the White House to include funds in the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget to move forward on the Craney Island eastward expansion project at the Port of Virginia.   The Virginia senators made their request in a joint letter today to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Civil Works.

The text of the letter is below.

September 9, 2013

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Director
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary for Civil Works
Department of the Army
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108

Dear Director Burwell and Secretary Darcy:

            As you prepare the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 federal budget, we write to urge you to include construction funds for the Craney Island Eastward Expansion project in Portsmouth, Virginia.  We also request a meeting with staff from your offices to discuss long-term planning for this project. 

            This is a project of national significance that updates critical infrastructure, drives economic development, and creates jobs.  We understand the enormous fiscal pressures you have faced in recent years, but it is critical that we determine a path forward.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has expressed capability to execute $50 million in project activities in FY15.

            As you know, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 authorized this project with a 50% federal cost-share, with the Virginia Port Authority matching the federal contribution.  To date, the Port has funded the vast majority of project activities.  Federal funding was enacted in FY10, FY11, and FY12, but was not included in the President’s budget for FY13 or FY14.

            Some $100 million has been invested in the project so far, of which the federal government has invested $33 million.  Construction is underway, and the overall project is around 10% complete.  Additional years without federal funding will not only prolong completion time and raise overall project costs, but will also jeopardize the current federal investment by restricting the Corps from doing bare minimum project maintenance and incurring additional risk of project setbacks (such as a Hurricane Sandy-type event).

            The Port of Virginia is a gateway for international commerce and is one of thirteen U.S. strategic ports that support the mobilization and readiness of our national defense.  More than 14,000 businesses from all contiguous 48 states move cargo through Virginia. 

            The construction of the Craney Island Eastward Expansion will allow the Virginia Port Authority to nearly double its marine terminal capacity and to meet the projected increase in international trade from the Panama Canal expansion.  Virginia is currently the sole port on the eastern seaboard authorized to dredge 55-foot channels with 57-foot sea lane approach, deep enough to accept post-Panamax cargo vessels, which will account for 62% of container ship capacity by 2030.  Furthermore, TEU movement through East Coast ports is expected to triple by 2035.  The new marine terminal on Craney Island will help move this additional cargo to our nation’s rail network via the recently opened Heartland Rail Corridor from Hampton Roads to the Midwest.

            This project is estimated to stimulate $16 billion in National Economic Development benefits with a Benefit-to-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 3.1 to 1 and a Remaining Benefits-to-Cost Ratio (RBCR) of 5.5 to 1, while generating some 1,100 jobs immediately and 54,000 sustainable jobs after construction.  The project fits the administration’s drive for smart economic and infrastructure growth.

            We believe that the completion of the Craney Island Eastward Expansion has clear benefits to the nation, facilitating more efficient transport of goods and assisting in the mobilization of defense assets should a national emergency arise.  It is critical that this project remain on schedule.

            We appreciate your attention to this important initiative and look forward to working closely with you on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Thank you for your consideration of these requests. 

Sincerely,

Mark Warner

Tim Kaine