JACKSONVILLE, FL. (May 23, 2022) – Federal, state, and local leaders joined U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the JAXPORT team to celebrate the long awaited completion of the Jacksonville Harbor Deepening project through JAXPORT’s Blount Island terminal.
The project deepened the federal shipping channel from 40 to 47 feet, providing the channel depth needed for larger container ships to call on City of Jacksonville, Florida - Government from destinations worldwide. A deeper harbor also allows ships currently calling Jacksonville to carry more cargo on board.
“This is a great ceremony, and a great opportunity to recognize all the efforts of the USACE, JAXPORT, federal, state and local leaders that has gone on for many, many years,” said U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District Commander Col. James L. Booth. “As a result of this team effort, we expect Jacksonville harbor will grow and prosper as a preferred destination and point of departure for the largest, most cost-effective commercial fleets of the mid-21st century.”
Construction for the project began in 2018 and after many studies, independent review, public input and full regulatory approval, Booth said this is the moment USACE and JAXPORT leaders had been waiting for almost two decades.
The number of federal, state and local officials here today speaks to the magnitude of this project and its significance to our community,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green. “As a Jacksonville native, one of my greatest joys, both professionally and personally is seeing this project come to fruition.”
The welcomed project has now deepened the federal shipping channel of the St. Johns River from Mayport Naval Station to JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. The additional seven feet provides the channel depth needed for JAXPORT to accommodate larger container cargo ships and allows existing ships calling Jacksonville to carry more cargo on board.
In coordination with deepening, JAXPORT completed more than $100 million in berth enhancements this month to enable the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal (JCT) at Blount Island to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax container ships. In early 2023, terminal operator SSA Atlantic will welcome three new eco-friendly 100-gauge container cranes, bringing the JCT’s total to six.
“Anchored by harbor deepening, well over half a billion dollars in infrastructure improvements have been recently completed or are currently underway to improve our container capabilities at Blount Island,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green. “With the support of our federal, state, and local partners, JAXPORT is open for business and ready to serve the needs of our customers while creating local jobs here in our community.”
“This project solidifies Northeast Florida as a top destination for worldwide commerce and shipping, with the ability to accommodate larger ships,” said Congresswoman Kat Cammack. “Florida, with her 14 ports around the state, continues to lead the way for maritime transportation and I’m grateful for the hard work and investment in this project, which will only create more opportunities to strengthen our supply chain and make the Sunshine State a top gateway to domestic and international destinations.”
The Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project creates or protects 15,000 jobs throughout the supply chain, including trucking, warehousing, and distribution. The initial feasibility study for the project began in 2005, and construction started in February 2018.
Deepening through Blount Island was completed three years ahead of the original project schedule. The total funding to date is $420 million funded through a public-private partnership between the federal government, State of Florida, City of Jacksonville, JAXPORT, and SSA Atlantic.
“I’m very happy and excited about this project,” said USACE Jacksonville District Senior Project Manager, Jason Harrah from the Water Resources Branch. There has been a lot of Corps employees working on this project since 2005 with the feasibility agreement and we are here today to celebrate the completion.”
The Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project is a 13-mile federally authorized project. The current funding model covered the completion of the first 11 miles. The final two miles are authorized and under review.
JAXPORT is Florida’s largest container port and one of the nation’s top vehicle-handling ports. Jacksonville offers two-way ship traffic, no berth or terminal congestion, and same-day access to 98 million consumers.
Cargo activity through Jacksonville’s seaport supports 138,000 jobs in Florida and $31 billion in annual economic impact for the region and state. The port continues to make infrastructure improvements in support of JAXPORT’s mission to create jobs and economic opportunity for the citizens of Northeast Florida.
“As with all Corps projects, this mammoth civil works effort was undertaken to upgrade the nation’s waterways and ports, to strengthen supply chains and promote economic growth while protecting the environment,” said Booth.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at www.saj.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong.