State budget amendments totaling $65 million have been filed in an effort to establish an inland port in Southwest Virginia.
State Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol and Del. Will Wampler, R-Abingdon, filed separate amendments to seek funds for the design and construction of an inland port.
A new feasibility study by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Port of Virginia identified Southwest Virginia’s Mount Rogers Planning District region as meeting “enough market-driven and physical conditions to warrant additional assessment.”
Mount Rogers includes the Interstate 81 corridor of Bristol and the counties of Washington, Smyth and Wythe.
The state’s only existing inland port operates at Front Royal near the intersection of Interstates 81 and 66.
Wampler’s amendment includes a request for $10 million either during fiscal year 2022-23 “provided to the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission for site acquisition and planning, design and construction of site improvements related to establishment of an inland port,” according to the document.
Funds would come from the general fund from “economic development incentive payments.”
Pillion has filed a similar amendment for site acquisition, planning and design of $10 million but during fiscal 2023-24 with the Virginia Port Authority.
Last week Pillion said an inland port could be “transformative” for the region.
Separate amendments were filed by Pillion and O’Quinn filed seeking $55 million, in fiscal 2023-24, to build an inland port in the Mount Rogers Planning District. Funds would come from the Virginia Port Authority.
“The Virginia Port Authority may collaborate with Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority and any federal, state, or local agency as necessary to support the development of an inland port in the Mount Rogers Planning District. Virginia Economic Development Partnership shall support the port in developing and advancing the marketing and key economic development aspects related to the inland port,” according to the budget amendment.
An inland port is an intermodal site where freight is transferred from truck to rail or vice versa. The port is expected to be a $50 million initial investment and create 1,370 permanent new jobs, including 675 jobs directly at the inland port and 695 indirect jobs, according to the state study. It would be owned by the Port of Virginia.
Last week the Washington County Virginia Industrial Development Authority voted to provide “all acreage necessary” within its Oak Park development to provide a location for the port.
One site in the park is next to the Norfolk-Southern mainline and the entire park is a short distance from Interstate 81’s Exit 13 and Virginia Highlands Airport.