December 1, 2008
James River barge service starts--with new name
A new container-on-barge service between Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, was set to start service today.
The goal is to provide an economically feasible service that provides an alternative means of moving freight into and out of the Hampton Roads area, thereby mitigating highway, bridge and tunnel congestion and lessening the environmental impact created by trucks in Hampton Roads and along the I-64 corridor.
Now called 64 Express the service was developed as the James River Barge Line by David Host, president and chief executive officer of Norfolk ship agency T. Parker Host, Inc. However, it has been sold to Norfolk Tug Co. for an undisclosed sum.
A report in The Virginian-Pilot quotes Edward D. Whitmore, president of Norfolk Tug, as saying the sale was motivated by a desire to save money on insurance and other operating expenses. Norfolk Tug was originally going to operate the barge line for T. Parker Host. But under that plan, "a lot more money was going to be required," Whitmore said. "T. Parker Host was going to have to buy many of the same insurance products that I already own."
The U.S. Maritime Administration says 64 Express is a type of service that ithopes to replicate elsewhere around the country as it implements a new "America's Marine Highway Program" that calls for the Department of Transportation to designate and support specific Marine Highway corridors and projects.
Marad says that arrival of the 64 Express coincides with the shelving of a $400-million widening project along 25 miles of Interstate-64 - even though traffic demands in this corridor continue to grow. "This project serves as a model of how transportation planners can use waterborne transportation to help mitigate increased congestion and deferred highway projects, both of which are on the rise as states strive to deal with significant budget cuts," said U.S. Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton.
The 64 Express was made possible by the concerted efforts of a team of public and private interests including the Richmond Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Maritime Administration, the Virginia Port Authority, Port of Richmond, Virginia DOT, Federal Highway Administration, and the private sector.
In its first year, the service is anticipated to shift up to 4,000 trucks from the Hampton Boulevard area in Norfolk and Interstate-64 to Richmond, both are well known for congestion and gridlock. By its third year of operation, this service could reduce the volume of truck trips along this important corridor by 58,000.