Norfolk Southern’s living shoreline provides habitat for oysters, river otters, shore birds, and other wildlife on the Elizabeth River while protecting railroad property at our Lamberts Point Norfolk Terminal from rising coastal tides. The restored 9-acre shoreline, extending nearly three football fields, is planted in native spartina marsh grass, creating an oasis of green along a bustling industrial riverfront that generates jobs and other economic benefits for the region.
Norfolk Southern brought in more than 2,300 cubic yards of sand — roughly 200 dump truck loads — to rebuild the eroded shoreline. Nearly 24,000 plantings of native saltwater marsh will stabilize the shore and provide wildlife habitat.
A series of small rock breakwaters will buffer the shoreline from storm waves. To create an inviting habitat for oysters, Norfolk Southern layered roughly 90 cubic yards of recycled oyster shells — nearly 12 dump truck loads – on the backside of the breakwaters. Oysters are known for their ability to clean and purify water. A single oyster can clean as much as 50 gallons a day as it filters the river water for food.
The living shoreline supports community initiatives to clean and preserve the Elizabeth River’s water quality. It also buffers an access road and railroad tracks at Norfolk Southern’s Lamberts Point Norfolk Terminal from erosion caused by rising tides.
Much of the living shoreline is submerged during high tides, creating a habitat-rich tidal zone that supports an assortment of marine wildlife. Working in partnership with the Elizabeth River Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect the river’s water quality, Norfolk Southern has restored a native ecosystem in an area that bustles with maritime commerce, including ship repair and port terminals.