Posted November 26, 2018
Jaxport will receive $46 million to deepen a portion of the St. Johns River, the project's largest federal contribution to date. The funds were allocated in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work plan Wednesday, according to a statement from Sen. Marco Rubio's office.
Jaxport has now been allocated almost $100 million in federal funds to deepen 11 miles of the St. Johns River to 47 feet. Work on Contract A to deepen the first three miles of the shipping channel began in February, and work on Contract B to deepen miles three through eight should begin in December.
The deepening project is meant to allow larger vessels to call on the Port of Jacksonville, given that shipping companies are opting for larger and larger vessels every year.
“Floridians depend on the efforts of the Army Corps to study, construct, and maintain important water resources infrastructure across our state,” Rubio said. “These projects will provide important benefits for Florida, including funding to restore America’s Everglades, support water quality improvement projects, and prevent flooding in our communities. I’m especially pleased to have helped secure much-needed construction funding to complete Port Panama City’s new terminal berth which will be critical to the Panhandle’s recovery after Hurricane Michael.”
The Army Corps is expected to bid out Contract C - miles eight through 11 - next year. Jaxport has Congressional authorization to deepen 13 miles of the river, but it has repeatedly expressed a focus on only the first 11 miles. That would deepen the channel to the terminal at Blount Island instead of Dames Point, necessitating tenant moves to make Blount Island the deep-water terminal. Negotiations with tenants are underway.
In total, the 11-mile harbor deepening project was originally expected to cost $484 million, though the first phase of the project came in about $20 million under budget. State funds have matched local funds, which so far have been a mix of Jaxport and tenant contributions. The City would be the last entity asked to help fund the project.