Thursday, July 23, 2015

Statement on Port of Richmond

Mayor Dwight Jones and Port of Virginia CEO John Reinhart today announced that the Port of Virginia has requested to renew its lease on the Port of Richmond for a second five year term. In addition, the Port of Virginia intends to bid on a long-term lease proposal that will allow it to make greater capital investment in the Port of Richmond terminal. The Mayor will introduce the related papers on Monday, July 27 for consideration by City Council on September 8.  

The announcement comes one day after Governor McAuliffe announced the Port of Virginia is forecasted to post its first yearly operating profit since 2008 and has set a new record for cargo volume.

“The City’s partnership with the Port of Virginia has turned the Port of Richmond around, and it holds promise for unlocking the value of one of the greatest economic drivers for the Richmond region,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We are excited by the possibility of a long-term partnership with The Port of Virginia, and the prospect for integrating Richmond and Central Virginia into networks of global trade. We are eager to review the long-term lease proposal.”

Under The Port of Virginia’s management, cargo volumes at the Port of Richmond have grown year over year. In fiscal year 2013, the barge service transported over 6,400 containers. In fiscal year 2014, the barge volumes increased 49% with over 9,500 containers transported. Barge volumes increased another 49% and finished fiscal year 2015 with over 14,000 containers transported. Due to the consistent increase in volumes, the barge service increased from two trips a week to three trips a week in January of 2015 and is currently averaging approximately 200 moves per week. This steady increase in volumes is due in large part to direct marketing efforts of The Port of Virginia which have resulted in five international ocean carriers offering bills of lading directly to the Port of Richmond. The Port of Virginia has also made significant on terminal investment to include improvements to the rail infrastructure and the purchase of a new mobile harbor crane scheduled for delivery in early 2017.

“The Port of Richmond has become a critical part of The Port of Virginia network,” said CEO John Reinhart. Cargo moving up and down the James River provides a direct connection with shippers in Central Virginia and means less truck traffic on our roadways. We want to solidify the future of Port of Richmond so we can continue to make on-terminal investments that will attract additional shippers and strengthen our network. Our port is growing and facilities like the Port of Richmond are crucial to provide the necessary access to deliver the goods coming through the port to manufacturers and consumers throughout our market.” 

The Port of Richmond is not only a valuable asset to the City of Richmond, but also an economic driver for the entire region. Strategically positioned to capitalize on intermodal freight activity by virtue of its location on the James River, it also possesses close proximity to the major transportation corridors of I-95, I-64, I-85, and direct access to rail with CSX.

“The Port is a great asset for the entire region,” said Chesterfield Country Administrator Jay Stegmaier. “We’re confident the Port of Richmond will play an increasingly important role in attracting jobs and new investment to Central Virginia.” 

Chesterfield County Bermuda District representative Dorothy Jaeckle noted, “Improvements at the port will also add significantly to the revitalization of the Route 1 corridor in both Richmond and Chesterfield."

The lease and management of the Port of Richmond was assumed in July 2011 by The Port of Virginia from the City of Richmond, with the option to renew the lease for three successive five-year terms.  During this partnership, The Port of Virginia began operating a barge service carrying containerized cargo between the marine terminals in Hampton Roads and the Port of Richmond. Growth of the barge service is critical as it removes container traffic from the local roadways, significantly reduces undesirable emissions, and provides for the consistent and effective movement of freight to bolster economic development in the City of Richmond and beyond.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

CSX, Capital Trees and the City of Richmond Partner to Create the Low Line

CSX, Capital Trees, and the City of Richmond have signed agreements to begin the creation of the Low Line, a 5.5 acre environmental and beautification project along Dock Street adjacent to the Virginia Capital Trail, on the historic James River and Kanawha Canal. CSX, which owns the rail trestle that runs along the planned beautification area into downtown Richmond, is donating $100,000 to support the project.

“Rarely does an opportunity to do something so transformative present itself,” said Jeanette McKittrick, chairman of Capital Trees’ board of trustees. “The Low Line is the uncommon event where the necessary elements of timing, circumstance, will, and ability come together to recast a place of great historic, environmental, cultural and economic interest. It is Capital Trees’ vision to help Richmond live up to its stunningly beautiful natural gifts, to work harder to protect the James River, and to work harder, think harder, about landscapes and streetscapes. We’re very grateful that CSX and the City of Richmond have the vision to see the importance of this project and have joined in as true collaborators.” 

Mayor Dwight C. Jones expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “I am pleased that this partnership will enhance the beauty of the City’s riverfront as well as the Virginia Capital Trail.  Creative partnerships among the City, corporate partners like CSX, and volunteer non-profits like Capital Trees are taking the Richmond resurgence to the next level.” 

Project plans for the Low Line include enhancing the area between the Capital Trail and CSX’s rail trestles along the James River and Kanawha Canal, removing invasive weeds and creating an attractive landscape with primarily native trees, shrubs and perennials, along with storm water mitigation amenities, educational signage and space for interpretive public art.  The Low Line takes creative inspiration from the High Line, an elevated unused CSX railway viaduct running through Manhattan that was transformed into a beautiful urban garden.

The Low Line concept is the creation of Capital Trees, which is responsible for the project’s design, funding and execution. Site preparation is underway and partial completion is expected prior to the UCI World Championships in September. In addition to the CSX and City of Richmond donations, the project has attracted significant support from The Cabell Foundation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Roller-Bottimore Foundation, the Rock Foundation, the Garden Club of Virginia, and individual donors.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mayor Jones' Statement Concerning a Freestanding Children’s Hospital, Minor League Baseball, and Regional Cooperation

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement concerning a freestanding children’s hospital, minor league baseball, and regional cooperation:

“The conversation around a freestanding children’s hospital has driven a renewed commitment to regional cooperation among the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County.

“Advocates for the hospital asked each locality for potential locations, and we each presented options. They have indicated the Boulevard is their preferred site.

“In recent days, I have met with Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas and Chesterfield County Administrator Jay Stegmaier to advance this important regional priority. This includes agreeing to a process to identify alternative locations in the region to ensure that the Richmond Flying Squirrels have a permanent home.

“Today, we met with representatives of the Squirrels and the President of the Eastern League. We agreed that the Squirrels should meet with all localities in the Richmond area to explore potential locations that have easy access and visibility for Squirrels fans.

“The Squirrels agreed to work with each locality to identify a site by the end of this year. To demonstrate the region’s commitment to the Squirrels, I propose to extend their current lease on the Diamond through the end of 2017.

“We agreed on an exploration process that will consider site selection options, financing opportunities including private investment, potential construction schedules, and that recognizes the financial constraints our localities are facing. We committed, together with our regional partners, to work with the Squirrels. Ultimately, the Squirrels will identify a site that best fits their needs.

“The Squirrels are a great asset for our region, and they are woven into the fabric of our community. When they came to town six years ago, they changed how our region experiences minor league baseball. They showed us that it’s about having fun, enjoying family time, and celebrating our community. We all know the community wants them to stay here forever.

“I believe this renews our commitment to an open and comprehensive approach to advancing regional priorities, starting with the children’s hospital.”