JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Moving large ships in and out of Jacksonville is a major enterprise here, but to keep it floating, the city says it has to dredge the river from the Dames Point Bridge all the way to the ocean 7 feet deeper.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of congressional approval, neither of which has happened yet.

According to port officials, the economy that is generated at the port, not just shipping but trucks bringing in cargo that is being exported and imported, is what makes the dredging so important to the community.

That's why the port is bringing in congressional leaders like Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia. Rahall, who visited the port Monday, holds a key spot on a congressional committee that could put St. Johns River dredging back in the picture this year.

"What I have seen so far is not only $19 billion of economic activity and input into the area, but I've seen homeland security importance as well, what this port means to our homeland security and our armed forces in the United States," Rahall said.

The congressman was accompanied by Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., who has been pushing this from the start.

"We have to think not in terms of just economics, which is so important to our community, but also homeland security," she said.

Part of the project near Naval Station Mayport -- the Mile Point area -- has been approved. Now the push is to get Congress to consider the rest of the river. Port officials says they are just looking for an OK, a stamp of approval, and will worry about funding later.