Two more feet of space for ships to travel the St. Johns River may mean the difference in bringing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development to JAXPORT.
The JAXPORT Board of Directors today (Monday) voted to seek dredging the St. Johns River to 47 feet, instead of the 45 feet recommended by the Army Corp of Engineers.
Marine economic development consultant John Martin says the extra two feet would allow for larger cargo ships to use MAYPORT.
He says in the long run the additional cost of dredging would be offset by the added revenue.
But Martin says without it, lots of potential shipping traffic from Asia would likely go elsewhere.
The Corp recommendation is based on the what it sees as the best return on investment. But Interim JAXPORT CEO Roy Schleicher says the Corp and port use different forecast models. "They have to look at the current and what you had in the past" He said. "We, because we're out there getting cargo have to look for heavily into the future."
The deeper channel request will be added to the final phases of the U-S Army Corp of Engineers study.
Army Corp officials say the 45-feet recommendation is not yet finalized. Draft results of its harbor deepening study is expected to be released in May.