The Port of Virginia, in an effort to give workers more time to reduce the avalanche of containers inundating its international terminal, said today it would temporarily reduce by 48 hours the window of lead times for export containers to be brought to the facility prior to a vessel's departure.
Up until today, the port allowed truckers nine days before a ship's departure to deliver boxes to its Virginia International Gateway (VIG). Starting tomorrow morning, however, the port will reduce that window to seven days. In doing so, the port hopes to reduce the number of boxes arriving early at the terminal that would just occupy space before loading aboard ship, according to Joe Harris, the port's chief spokesman. The move is designed to help workers cut through the mountain of boxes that are being stored in tall stacks at the terminal, and to accelerate truck velocity by reducing the number of vehicles lining up at VIG, Harris said.
The new schedules will remain in effect until normal operations are restored at VIG, Harris said. He would not comment on a timeframe. The port is expecting heavy cargo volumes at VIG through the balance of the week and into the weekend.
Record volumes over the last 18 months, combined with two severe storms last month that dramatically curtailed operations at the terminal, have created a massive congestion headache for the port. As of yesterday, VIG was operating at about 50,000 containers above its 650,000-container capacity. It has been operating at full capacity for several weeks. The port has been unable to make headway at the terminal because a continued blizzard of boxes overwhelms its efforts to reduce their count.
The port has turned to barge services to dray containers between VIG, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal and the much larger Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). It also informed stakeholders today that Portsmouth is accepting export containers.