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USACE and Port of Virginia Spearhead Major Atlantic Ocean Channel Deepening

Stakeholders break ground during the Atlantic Ocean Channel Phase II Groundbreaking Ceremony held in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Alysia Rigano)
Stakeholders break ground during the Atlantic Ocean Channel Phase II Groundbreaking Ceremony held in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Alysia Rigano)
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA — Armed with shovels in hand, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Norfolk District along with its partners, Virginia Port Authority and City of Virginia Beach broke ground during a ceremony for the commencement of the Atlantic Ocean Channel Phase II, celebrating the commencement of construction for the final Norfolk Harbor Deepening contract along with the upcoming beach nourishment projects at Resort and Croatan Beaches in Virginia Beach.

The Atlantic Ocean Channel Phase II entails deepening the channel to a minimum depth of 59 feet and beneficially using a portion of the dredge material for beach nourishment in Virginia Beach.

“The Norfolk District is committed to ensuring the Atlantic Ocean Channel dredging project is a successful part of the Norfolk Harbor Deepening project,” said Col. Brian Hallberg, USACE Norfolk District Commander. “The arrangements for beneficial use of the sand at Resort and Croatan Beaches were truly a regional team effort among the Norfolk District, the Virginia Port Authority, and the City of Virginia Beach that showcase our efforts to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaboration.”

Channel deepening will provide economic benefits to the Port of Virginia, the region, and the nation by enabling more efficient movement of commodities. The channels will be deepened to a minimum 55 feet depth for use by deeply laden ultra-large container vessels and large colliers calling on the Port of Virginia.

“This final phase means we are nearing the finish of a critical maritime infrastructure project, which is the creation of the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked diligently with us to widen and deepen the ocean approach, the commercial channel, and the Norfolk Harbor, allowing The Port of Virginia to safely and efficiently handle the biggest ships in the global container trade."

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Beneficial placement of dredged material will provide storm risk management benefits for the citizens and businesses of Virginia Beach through the upcoming beach nourishment projects at Resort and Croatan Beaches.

The “Wider, Deeper, Safer” dredging project will deepen the Inner Harbor channels to 55 feet, Chesapeake Bay’s Thimble Shoal Channel to 56 feet, and Atlantic Ocean Channel to 59 feet. The Thimble Shoal Channel will also be widened up to 1,400 feet in select areas, allowing for ultra-large container vessel two-way traffic. Completion of the full Norfolk Harbor navigation improvement project is expected around 2025.

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