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State leaders are preparing for the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Virginians were reminded just how valuable the state port is when two private companies offered to pay billions of dollars to take over management of the terminals. Fortunately, the 12-member governing board of the Virginia Port Authority recognized that the facility is more valuable than the bidders were willing to admit.
The board unanimously rejected the proposals to privatize the port and began taking the necessary steps to ensure Virginia makes the most out of opportunities that are steaming this way.
Although the private bids sounded generous, they were based on the state port’s slow rebound after the recession. Even as the proposals were being analyzed, cargo traffic was surging, making the Hampton Roads facility the fastest growing port on the East Coast last year.
The future promises still greater prosperity. The port’s 50-foot channels and deep sea lanes, along with enhanced rail access and its central location, are already attracting a new generation of super-sized cargo ships accessing the Atlantic via the Suez Canal. Once an expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015, those behemoths will dominate the market and triple shipments on the East Coast by 2035.
Port leaders, with support from legislators, have begun a reorganization to improve operating efficiency, reduce debts and position the state to expand capacity and attract new distribution centers and manufacturers as customers.
“We will move forward as a stronger, leaner organization that is better-positioned to serve the ocean carriers and port customers, attract cargo to Virginia and be more accountable to Virginia taxpayers,” said board Chairman William Fralin, a Roanoke businessman.
Sounds like a better deal than the two that were left on the table.
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