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Posted 8/5/2013

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By Amanda Ellison

Addressing a standing-room-only audience at JAXPORT July 25, President Barack Obama stressed the importance of maintaining the nation’s ports and aging infrastructure.

Hundreds gathered to hear Obama’s plan for moving the economy forward, starting with passing legislation to authorize two local port projects that would put people back to work in Jacksonville.

“In a couple of years, new supertankers are going to start coming through the Panama Canal,” said Obama. “We want those supertankers to come here, to Jacksonville.”

Last year, Obama launched the “We Can’t Wait” initiative, which expedited seven nationally significant infrastructure projects to modernize and expand five major ports in the United States, including JAXPORT.

For the Port of Jacksonville, the initiative includes completing a feasibility study by April 2014, years ahead of previous projections. The study examines the benefits and costs of deepening the federal navigation channel from its existing authorized project depth of 40 feet to 47 feet.

 “…Last year, I acted without Congress, and I took executive action to speed up the permitting process that gets workers breaking ground on projects like this one,” said Obama.

The Chief of Engineers’ report for the Mile Point Navigational Study was signed last year, and is currently awaiting congressional authorization and appropriation. It is a critical project that, when complete, will allow ships to more safely navigate Jacksonville Harbor.

“If we want our workers and businesses to compete,” said Obama, “then our ports have to be ready.”

Another Jacksonville District project, deepening the Miami Harbor federal navigation channel from 42 to 50 feet, was also included in the “We Can’t Wait” initiative, along with port projects in Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and New York and New Jersey.

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