Jaxport wants deeper St. Johns River channel


A month after Gov. Rick Scott floated $38 million to help the Jacksonville Port Authoity attract larger cargo ships; the Jaxport Board of Directors has set its sights on a deeper harbor.

Board members on Monday requested the federal channel be dredged from 40-feet to 47-feet, two foot deeper than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recommended.

"We all know that there is incredible opportunity just over the horizon for North Florida, and the ability to be the first or last port of call for the larger cargo vessels fully loaded means jobs and positive growth for the private sector in our region," Jaxport Interim CEO Roy Schleicher said in a release.  "We must maximize the use of the public assets under our management and we must do so now."

The federal government would be expected to cover 75 percent of the work, but no cost estimates were immediately available. With port supporters and business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, anticipating growth in global trade from the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal, state leaders have been pushing to bulk up the state's seaports against competition along the gulf and east coasts. In January,

Scott called for $38 million in state and local money to complete a terminal project at JaxPort, allowing the port authority to fix the navigational problems in the St. Johns River at Mile Point. Two years ago, Scott directed $77 million to make PortMiami the state's deepest port at 50 feet.