January 13, 2020

Va. Congressional Delegation Requests OMB Support for Norfolk Harbor Project

~ Letter requests that Army Corps issue a New Start designation to ensure timely completion of the Norfolk Harbor widening and deepening project ~

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) led the entire Virginia congressional delegation in sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting a New Start designation for the Norfolk Harbor widening and deepening project in the Army Corps Work Plan. A New Start designation would allow the Norfolk Harbor project to advance to its next stage of construction and receive Army Corps funding. Currently, the project is progressing using a combination of state and local funds.

“Thanks to the cooperation between the Port of Virginia, the Norfolk District, and the rest of the Army staff, construction on the first constructible element, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule,” wrote the members of Congress. “The next steps are to complete the Design during Construction (DDC) on the remaining elements and prepare the next segment for award and construction. In order to maintain this schedule, the project requires a New Start designation and $2.5 million for construction in the 2020 Work Plan as well as $49.4 million in the President's 2021 budget request.”

The Port of Virginia is an important commercial and economic engine for the Commonwealth, generating more than $78 million annually. In their letter to OMB, the members of Congress reiterated that the funding is critical to ensure timely completion of a two-way traffic channel to better accommodate commercial ships and vessels deploying from Naval Station Norfolk.

“As you know, one lane traffic is not sustainable at the Port of Virginia as the size of commercial vessels continues to grow. One lane traffic creates uncertainty and inefficiency for businesses and their supply chains. Additionally, as home to the world’s largest naval base – Naval Station Norfolk – the deepening and widening of Norfolk Harbor will support the critical functions of the U.S. Navy. The completion of this project will ensure the continued safe and timely passage of larger commercial and military vessels through Norfolk Harbor,” they continued. “The rapid growth of larger vessels entering maritime trade makes it essential that this project proceed as quickly as possible. The public and private non-federal interests have invested billions of dollars on land-side infrastructure and are prepared to provide their cost share to complete this crucial navigation project in a timely manner.”

In December, Sens. Warner and Kaine voted in favor of the government funding bill that included $2.5 million for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project and critical language authorizing six Army Corps New Starts. The Army Corps will announce which projects will receive New Start designations in their Work Plan, which must be released no later than 60 days after the Energy and Water appropriations bill was signed into law.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine and Reps. Scott and Wittman, the letter was signed by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Director Vought:

We write today concerning the development of the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan and the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Project. As the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) and your office complete work on the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan and the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request, we write to reiterate the importance of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Project.

Thanks to the cooperation between the Port of Virginia, the Norfolk District, and the rest of the Army staff, construction on the first constructible element, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule. The next steps are to complete the Design during Construction (DDC) on the remaining elements and prepare the next segment for award and construction. In order to maintain this schedule, the project requires a New Start designation and $2.5 million for construction in the 2020 Work Plan as well as $49.4 million in the President's 2021 budget request.

As you know, one lane traffic is not sustainable at the Port of Virginia as the size of commercial vessels continues to grow. One lane traffic creates uncertainty and inefficiency for businesses and their supply chains. Additionally, as home to the world’s largest naval base – Naval Station Norfolk – the deepening and widening of Norfolk Harbor will support the critical functions of the U.S. Navy. The completion of this project will ensure the continued safe and timely passage of larger commercial and military vessels through Norfolk Harbor. The rapid growth of larger vessels entering maritime trade makes it essential that this project proceed as quickly as possible. The public and private non-federal interests have invested billions of dollars on land-side infrastructure and are prepared to provide their cost share to complete this crucial navigation project in a timely manner.

The Port of Virginia is a commercial and economic engine for the United States and continues to play an integral role in American foreign and domestic commerce and trade. Continued federal investment into this project will allow the Port to remain a prominent economic hub for the nation and a key player in domestic and international trade by generating more than $78 million in annual national economic development benefits.

Thank you for your consideration. If we can be of any assistance to you going forward, please contact us.

Sincerely,

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