Posted September 26, 2018
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract valued at almost $210 million for the second phase of deepening the St. Johns River, a cost that come in higher than original expectations.
When the Corps advertised for proposals earlier this year, the notice pegged the "magnitude of construction" at $125 million to $200 million.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. won the contract for the second phase, which will cover 5 miles of river and take five years.
The contract for Great Lakes Dredge is broken into two pieces. The Corps awarded a $113-million base contract this week. The Corps will award the other $97 million portion of Phase 2 next year, provided there is funding to keep the work moving forward.
"This award represents another key milestone to improve harbor infrastructure that is vital to our economy," Col. Drew Kelly, commander of the Corps' Jacksonville-based district, said Tuesday in the announcement.
The Corps began dredging the river earlier this year to bring the 40-foot channel depth down to 47 feet so bigger cargo ships can call on Jacksonville. The federal government authorized deepening 13 miles of river, which would cost about $705 million.
JaxPort officials say the cost would drop by around $200 million by stopping at 11 miles at the Blount Island terminal, rather than continuing to the other side of the Dames Point bridge where a terminal is occupied by TraPac, which specializes in shipping cargo from Asia on ships that would benefit from deeper water.
But talks are still under way with TraPac about relocating its operation to Blount Island.
A combination of federal, state and local money will pay for the dredging, which is being done in phases to make it easier to round up money for the expensive project.
The first 3-mile phase of dredging started earlier this year with a $23 million contract awarded to Dutra.