Local, state and federal leaders on Monday drove ceremonial rail spikes into a piece of track to mark the start of construction on a $30-million intermodal container transfer facility at the Port of Jacksonville.
The facility, which will be served by eastern railroad CSX Transportation, will be located at the Dames Point Marine Terminal and will eliminate the need for shuttle trucks with international cargo to travel 16 miles to the current CSX intermodal terminal. City and state officials are betting that on-dock rail installation, along with anticipated deepening of the St. Johns River channel, will make the port more marketable for container shippers and provide MOL's TraPac terminal the necessary throughput to remain as a tenant.
The intermodal terminal is scheduled to begin commercial operations in late 2015. It is supported by a $10 million federal Department of Transportation TIGER grant and $20 million from the state of Florida.
CSX provides rail service at the nearby Blount Island Terminal, but that facility is primarily geared for automobile, heavy-lift, bulk and break-bulk cargoes.
"Once up and running, this facility will enhance our ability to generate jobs
and prosperity for our fellow citizens,” Joe York, chairman of the JaxPort board, said in a statement. “The benefits are clear:
faster movement of goods in a supply chain seeking ever more time efficiency,
the environmentally friendly vision of fewer trucks on our roads, and a clear
competitive advantage that JaxPort, our tenants and customers will market to
Acting Maritime Administration Paul "Chip" Jaenichen wrote on the DOT's "Fast Lane" blog that the nation needs more public-private partnerships like the one in Jacksonville to help move domestic and international goods to market as the U.S. population and trade continue to grow.
Jaenichen, who attended the groundbreaking, pointed out that the Obama administration has demonstrated strong support for ports and port-related projects through the TIGER program ($420 million for a variety of projects, including highways that carry port traffic) and that its recent surface transportation proposal includes $5 billion over four years to sustain the TIGER program, plus a new, dedicated fund to pay for freight infrastructure of all kinds.
Read more about JaxPort's growth plans in the May American Shipper
story, "JaxPort's game plan