Stimulus funds to help deepening JaxPort

Jacksonville Port Authority to get $14.5 million for dredging project

BY DAVID BAUERLEIN


A major dredge that will deepen the St. Johns River scooped up $14.8 million from the federal government’s stimulus package, giving the Jacksonville Port Authority a financial boost in its quest to attract ships with heavier cargo loads.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday also announced stimulus money will go toward dredging the Intracoastal Waterway in the Palm Valley area of St. Johns County and doing a study of shoreline protection in St. Johns County.
The projects will be funded through the $787 billion package that President Obama signed into law Feb. 17. The Army Corps of Engineers received $4.6 billion from that legislation and has been reviewing what projects would get funded.
The money for Jacksonville’s port will deepen the ship channel along a 5.3 mile stretch up to the Talleyrand terminal. The depth will be 40 feet after the project is completed, according to the Corps. It will match the depth of 14.7 miles of channel from the mouth of the ocean.
The Jacksonville Port Authority had been prepared to pay the bulk of the estimated $31 million cost so deepening would start this year on the 5.3 mile section. The stimulus money means JaxPort won’t have to wait years for the federal government to reimburse the Port Authority, thereby giving JaxPort the ability to use that money for other purposes such as equipment and dock maintenance, Executive Director Rick Ferrin said.
Ferrin said he was confident the federal government “would look at this and say this is a good use of the money, a logical use of the money.”
U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, along with Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala, all lobbied the Corps to include the deepening on the project list.
Also making the Corps’ cut was about $1.2 million for an ongoing study of deepening the channel to as much as 50 feet, plus $150,000 for a study of an area known as Mile Point where cross currents restrict the passage of cargo ships based on tidal conditions.
Other Northeast Florida projects set to get stimulus money from the Corps are dredging a segment of the Intracoastal Waterway in the Palm Valley area of St. Johns County for about $4.2 million and doing a shore protection study in St. Johns County for $452,000.
The Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Valley has not been dredged in many years. The work will restore it to its previous depth, according to the Corps.
The Corps also allocated about $1.7 million for maintenance dredging of the harbor in Fernandina Beach.


 

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