The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) has received additional USD 46 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Jacksonville Harbor deep draft navigation project.
The 47-foot deepening improvement project, authorized by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, will enable mega-sized container vessels to enter the port.
Namely, at present, the largest ships calling on Jacksonville’s port must arrive and depart lightly loaded, making them shallow draft enough to navigate the current 40-foot channel depth.
As a result, cargo volumes that could move through Jacksonville are diverted to other ports with the capacity to handle deeper draft ships.
The recent allocation comes in addition to the USD 50 million in federal funding directed to JAXPORT for the project over the past two fiscal years.
“JAXPORT recently became the largest port by container volume in the state of Florida. As a driver of regional economic activity and a strategically important national security infrastructure asset, we must continue to build upon this tremendous growth by enhancing the international competitiveness of JAXPORT,” Congressman John Rutherford, representing Florida’s 4th District, said.
Back in September, USACE awarded USD 210 million to for the second stage of the project. The contract was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company.
The first stage of the project which is already underway involves approximately 3 miles from the entrance way inland. While the second base funding covers roughly 2.5 river miles of deepening, with the remainder of the funds provided in August 2019 to cover the additional 2.5 river miles.
Construction is expected to start in late December and the estimated construction duration is roughly five years.
JAXPORT’s public seaport terminals achieved record growth in container volumes, recording double-digit growth during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. The port moved nearly 1.3 million containers, a 23 percent increase over 2017.
The port authority said that Asian container trade continues to show significant growth, achieving 12 percent growth in the past year, with nearly 429,000 Asian containers moved.
It was another record year with regard to the growth in general cargo volumes as nearly 10.5 million tons of cargo moved through JAXPORT last year, up 12 percent over 2017.