Publication Details

The Expansion of the Panama Canal and Its Impact on Virginia


Sara E. Russell

Date Published:

January 23, 2013 - 7pm

Publication Type:


Publication Series:

The Virginia News Letter

The Panama Canal expansion, scheduled for completion in 2015, will handle
super-sized cargo vessels.  Major ports on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts
are positioning themselves to compete for possible significant
increases in their share of world trade, especially with Asia.

The Port of Virginia at Hampton Roads is exceptionally well-prepared to
play a leading role according to Sara E. Russell, a maritime trade
scholar at Old Dominion University and author of the article. The
Virginia Port has deep channels, room to expand, and is home to the
world’s largest cranes, she writes. Importantly, the port is well
serviced by two major railroads, the Norfolk Southern and CSX, which
have updated their infrastructure all along the Eastern Seaboard to
handle more and larger containers and cargo. 

Which ports will dominate and how will the global trade patterns shift? “That
is literally a billion-dollar question,” Russell writes. In her
analysis, West Coast ports will continue to receive the bulk of Asian
trade simply because of their large population centers and existing
infrastructure. The remaining cargo could be handled in a number of
ways, she writes. A Caribbean hub could play a major role, but would
most likely add to the cost of handling goods shipped onward. Or a major
U.S. port could become a large central hub and distribute imports to
surrounding coastal and inland facilities. Another option is that
several key ports with well-developed infrastructures and quality
services will receive smaller portions of the expected increased