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White House Budget Proposes Full Funding for Jaxport Harbor Deepening

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File image courtesy Jaxport

By The Maritime Executive 02-13-2020 02:43:00

The White House has proposed to fully fund the federal share of the cost of deepening the port of Jacksonville, Florida's entrance channel. The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $57.5 million for the project in its FY2020 Work Plan, and the White House's FY2021 budget proposal would fund the federal balance of $35.5 million (if adopted by Congress). 

The new project involves deepening the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet from its current depth of 40 feet, all the way to Jaxport's Blount Island Marine Terminal. It will allow the port to receive more heavily-laden post-Panamax container ships calling from Asia and other foreign markets. A recent economic impact study found that the deepening project will create or protect 15,000 jobs and return $24 for every $1 invested.

“This is the first time Jaxport has ever received funding in the president’s budget, which speaks volumes about the significance of this project to the Southeast U.S. and the nation,” said port CEO Eric Green.

Upon completion of the deepening project, the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island will have a vessel turning basin and will be able to accommodate two post-Panamax vessels at a time. 

To date, the federal government, the state of Florida, JAXPORT, and port tenant SSA Jacksonville have contributed or pledged a combined total of nearly $400 million dollars toward the cost of the $484 million deepening project - the first project of its kind to include funding from a private business.

Harbor deepening is divided into four segments, contracts A-D, which make up the full length of the 13-mile federally authorized project. The current funding model covers the project’s first 11 miles through Blount Island. Contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are scheduled to complete the first 5.5 miles in spring 2020, marking the halfway point for this portion of the project.

Harbor deepening began in February 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2023, two years ahead of its original schedule.