Located in the Hampton Roads Harbor on 567 acres along the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers, Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) is the Virginia Port Authority’s (VPA) largest terminal. Of its three major sections, the South Terminal is the largest, at 272 acres.
In advance of the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project in 2016, VPA anticipated not only a substantial increase in cargo from Asia, but larger ships hauling it. Renovating the South Terminal, including the South Wharf to accommodate these changes required a dredged depth of 60 feet, and a combined berthing and unloading capacity for up to eight vessels, with 140 acres of container storage.
Schnabel was contracted to provide geotechnical support for the project. One challenge was a container storage area on 50 feet of soft clay that was predicted to settle nearly three feet. Under our guidance, wick drains and surcharging were employed to correct this problem. We also helped devise the plan for reconstructing 4,230 feet of the South Wharf to handle heavier loads and address the future 60-foot unsupported pile length. We recommended a cost-effective combination of 18- and 24-inch square precast concrete piles, and 36-inch precast concrete cylinder piles.
We also provided extensive engineering support during construction, including a comprehensive test pile program, instrumentation installation and monitoring, and QA testing of roller-compacted concrete and Superpave asphalt placement.