Ports were thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 after President Obama announced the “We Can’t Wait” Initiative, which placed several of Jacksonville District’s port projects and studies onto the fast track for implementation.
As a part of the initiative, President Obama identified seven nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects to be expedited to help modernize and expand five major ports in the United States, including the port of Jacksonville and the port of Miami.
“One way to help American businesses grow and hire is to modernize infrastructure,” said Obama.
The Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Study is moving forward at unprecedented pace, with the study schedule timeline being moved up by 14 months. The project team is hard at work to ensure that the draft feasibility study will be completed and finalized by April 2013. The study is examining benefits and costs of deepening the federal navigation channel from its existing authorized project depth of 40 feet to a maximum project depth of 50 feet.
In order to keep the public fully informed and engaged in the process, bi-monthly conference calls are open to public participation. Two public meetings were held in 2012, to present the community with preliminary findings of the ecological modeling portion of the study. Several more public meetings are planned for 2013.
The Jacksonville Harbor (Mile Point) Navigational Study reached several critical milestones when the Chief of Engineers’ Report was approved and the Project Design Agreement was signed. The approval of the Chief of Engineers’ Report is a critical step towards moving the project forward to Congress for authorization and appropriation. The joint signing of the agreement will allow the design of the project to move forward.
“This is another tremendous step forward for Mile Point as we move into the design phase of the project,” said Jerry Scarborough, chief of the Water Resources Branch. “This project is of critical importance to those who navigate the St. Johns River and will provide a much-needed solution for the maritime industry as well as the surrounding community.”
The Port of Canaveral achieved a significant milestone in October, when team members successfully presented the Canaveral Harbor Feasibility Study to the Civil Works Review Board. The feasibility study is only the second of its kind nationwide to be implemented under Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986. WRDA Section 203 allows the project sponsor to conduct the feasibility study itself, with the Corps acting as a consultant.
Extensive coordination and partnering between the sponsor and the Corps aided in the success of the study and helped shave critical time off of the project schedule. Due to the team’s efforts, members of the Civil Works Review Board commented that the presentation was one of the best efforts they have seen.
The Miami Harbor project is well under way and is moving full steam ahead. A permit for the project was issued in August and the project was advertised in October. The contract award is anticipated in March 2013.