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* Virginia Inland Port idles half its work force

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

(4 p.m.) FRONT ROYAL -- About half of the Virginia Inland Port's work force was laid off earlier this month due to declining cargo volume throughout the Port of Virginia system.

Eight of the inland port's 17 employees were among the 90 workers let go by Norfolk-based Virginia International Terminals, the system's operating affiliate.

The layoffs are the first initiated by VIT in its 27-year history, according to President and CEO Joe Dorto. Prior to the Aug. 3 announcement, the company employed more than 450 people at its marine cargo terminals in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News, and the inland port, a freight transfer facility off U.S. 522 north of Front Royal.

Dorto said overall cargo volume for the fiscal year ended June 30 was down nearly 25 percent, and traffic at the inland port was off 35 percent.

"You can't continue to carry that large of a work force when volume is down and a recovery may be years away," he said. "It's something we had to do to make sure company was right-sized for the current environment."

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