JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation has awarded JaxPort an additional $35.3 million in funding for the ongoing project deepening the Jacksonville harbor to allow larger ships with more cargo to use Jacksonville's port.
The funding will be used in the second phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' contract B, which will deepen an additional 2.5 miles of the St. Johns River.
JaxPort will use this funding, combined with financial support from the federal government and a private tenant, that helps keep the project two years ahead of schedule with anticipated completion in 2023, based on continued funding from all partners.
The state of Florida has, so far, contributed nearly $71.5 million toward the harbor deepening project, which was projected to cost $704.5 million.
Deepening the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet will accommodate more cargo aboard the larger ships currently calling on Jacksonville from counties in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand. JaxPort said its Asian container trade is up 9% so far in fiscal year 2019, which began on Oct. 1, 2018.
The St. Johns Riverkeeper has sued in an attempt to block the deepening over concerns that it will lead to increased flooding and river salinity. The Riverkeeper has been disputing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooding analysis.
The total Jacksonville Harbor Deepening project is divided into four segments, contracts A-D, which make up the full length of the 13-mile federally authorized project. The current funding covers the project's first 11 miles (contracts A, B and C).
Contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are simultaneously working to complete contracts A and B, which will deepen a total of 8 miles. Contract A is scheduled to be completed in spring 2020, with contract B scheduled to conclude in May 2021.
Contract C will deepen an additional 3 miles to and at Blount Island and is entering the final design phase.
JaxPort said a new economic impact study found that cargo moving through Jacksonville's seaport generates more than 138,500 jobs across the state of Florida and $31.1 billion in annual economic output for the region and state.