Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced on Monday a commitment of $38 million in state and local funding to improve navigation on the St. John's River at the Port of Jacksonville.
Scott said the state will provide $36 million and the port and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide an additional $2 million for improvements to the "Mile Point
" area on the river where the Intercoastal Waterway crosses the St. John's River.
Currents create navigation problems for large containerships calling at the port's Dames Point Marine Terminal upriver from Miles Point. Jaxport spokeswoman Nancy Rubin says large, heavily laden containerships may have to wait hours for high tide until being able to pass the location.
Dames Point is currently the home of MOL's 158-acre TraPac Terminal. Hanjin Shipping also has plans to build a 90-acre container facility at Dames
The project will involve demolition and reconstruction of so-called "training walls" at a bend in the river near Miles Point, environmental restoration work at Great Marsh Island, and a "flow improvement channel" in Chicopit Bay.
"We can no longer wait on the federal government to fund such an important project," Scott said. "Once constructed, the project will support the increase in cargo volumes and create an additional 3,500 port-related jobs."
Rubin said engineering work for the project is expected to be completed this summer. Once authorization for the project is finished, construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months.
“The Mile Point project promotes job growth and increases Jacksonville’s strength in the global supply chain. It’s an opportunity to welcome more ships while increasing our capacity to export domestic goods,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Metro Exports and Ports task force. “We are thankful for the governor’s investment and for this vote of confidence in our ability to continue opening doors into the world economy.”
Jaxport Interim Chief Executive Officer Roy Schleicher said, “This is a red letter day for all of us who care about the economic vitality and quality of life in this region and throughout the state. The benefits of this investment will continue to create opportunity for the port, our business partners and our citizens for decades to come by allowing this project to take a major leap forward toward completion."
Yesterday’s announcement also follows a 2011 commitment of $77 million in
state funding for the deepening of the channel to the Port of Miami. - Chris Dupin