Trucking and Transportation in Hampton Roads
I was at a meeting recently with some members of the Virginia General Assembly and some big company business executives at which the discussion started with the importance of transportation, trucking and our ports as being so key to the economy in the commonwealth.
Hampton Roads including the cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk and Newport News are key to the entire state economy because of the shipping and transportation which starts and ends in our great Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay access to the Atlantic Ocean. The depth of the river and port in Norfolk and Portsmouth is second to none in the United States and really in the world.
It is 50 feet deep before the dredging and that allows us to bring in the largest cargo ships from all over the world as well as Navy vessels and cruise ships. With the new opening of the larger Panama Canal to bigger cargo ships than ever only a limited number of ports on the East Coast are ready for the kind of transportation traffic that’s going to start coming to our shores. The natural gifts of the Port of Virginia in Norfolk can’t be overstated.
Connecting to the port is a whole network of railroad and trucking transportation options which allow goods to be moved inland to the heartland of America by rail and highway. Likewise exports whether coal or agricultural products can be put on vessels and out to sea very efficiently connecting to navigable water through the interstate highway system like I-64 and I‑95 as well as through the freight railroads of Norfolk Southern and CSXT. With these powerful transportation options come costs as well. We need to keep our infrastructure up to snuff by dredging the port to 55 feet to stay ahead of everybody else and get ready for the even larger ships that will be in the future coming to our shore. We also need to keep our roads in good repair and make sure there are no bottlenecks in the transportation system.
With the amount of trucking, railroad and shipping that occurs in Hampton Roads there are going to be accidents, injuries and even workplace deaths that occur. From the perspective of the owners of ships, railroads and trucking companies some number of workplace injuries and injuries to members of the public are just a cost of doing business. That’s why they keep insurance. However from the perspective of the individual worker or the public who might be the victim of a transportation disaster the individual costs are so great that no amount of money can ever make it right. All in all we are lucky to have the vibrant economy that we do in Southeastern Virginia living on our beautiful coast. With these benefits comes responsibility as well including to make sure that industry acts responsibly to take care of those people who get harmed as we keep the economy humming.