Craney Island rises from the water

Craney Island rises from the water

Since 2010, dredging contractors have been pumping tens-of-thousands of cubic yards of sand from the Atlantic Channel maintenance dredging project, spreading the material in two rows perpendicular to the Craney Island shoreline for the construction of the dykes.

“This is an important milestone as we can now see the progress; it was hard to get an image of what we were talking about when everything was still underwater,” said Rodney Oliver, interim executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA).

“As this project has now become something tangible, so too has the reality of the Port of Virginia becoming the US East Coast’s cargo gateway. When Craney Island is finished, this port will have more container capacity than any of its peers on this coast,” he claimed

Work on the 2,000 feet (606 m) long, 500 feet (151 m) wide and 10(3 m) feet tall dykes is expected to be completed in mid-to-late March. When complete, the next phase will be to connect them at their ends with a long dyke that runs parallel to the shoreline.

The project will then look like a large rectangle (cell) with the shoreline as one of its long sides. A second cell will be developed and filled at a later date.

At that time the focus of work will shift to filling the rectangle with more dredge material, taken from regional dredging projects. It is anticipated that filling both cells will take between six and eight years.

“The first phase of this project is to build the land on which the marine terminal will sit,” Oliver said. “It is, by far, the most complicated and costly part of the project. Once that 600-acre plot is in place, it will be there for us to develop as we need, as demand dictates. Comparatively, building a marine terminal will not be nearly as complicated,” he added.