JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Engineers and Jacksonville Port Authority leaders on Tuesday morning began the design process of the Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project.

Federal, state and local leaders joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and JaxPort leadership for the event to mark the start of the Pre-Construction, Engineering and Design phase of the project.

The initial engineering and design work is expected to take 18 months, and construction of the project could begin as early as 2016.

In June, President Barack Obama signed bipartisan legislation authorizing the deepening of the St. Johns River, saying this project and others like it will strengthen the national infrastructure and put more Americans to work.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown proclaimed June 17, 2014, as Harbor Deepening Launch Day.

The launch day event was held on the Southbank Riverwalk near Friendship Fountain.

Those who attended included the mayor, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, Jacksonville District Cmdr. Col. Alan M. Dodd and JaxPort CEO Brian Taylor.