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JAXPORT celebrates completion of harbor deepening project

May 23 Jaxport harbor deepening ceremony-06.jpg
Will Brown
/
WJCT News
JAXPORT CEO Eric Green celebrates the deepening of the Jacksonville harbor to 47 feet on Monday, May 23, 2022. The $410 million project is projected to produce scores of jobs in Jacksonville's maritime industry.

The river at the heart of the River City is now deep enough to welcome many of the largest vessels in the maritime industry.

Monday, the Jacksonville Port Authority announced the completion of the $410 million dredging project that deepens the first 11 miles of Jacksonville harbor to 47 feet.

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue says deepening the St. Johns River will help alleviate supply chain disruptions.

“Modernizing seaports enhances and grows our transportation network not just for the local community in the region, but also statewide and beyond,” Perdue said. “Our seaports are effectively integrated into the broader transportation system to serve as gateways connecting Florida to domestic and international markets, which in turn drives the economic competitiveness of our businesses.”

The dredging project was the first port deepening in the state to be funded by local, state, federal and private dollars. SSA Marine, a Seattle-based firm that leases more than 90 acres at JAXPORT, plans to invest $100 million in Jacksonville through a series of projects including the harbor deepening work.

May 23 Jaxport harbor deepening ceremony-08.jpg
Will Brown
/
WJCT News
Col. James L. Booth, commander of the Jacksonville district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks Monday, May 23, 2022, at the Blount Island Marine Terminal.

JAXPORT moved 1.4 million TEUs of container cargo in 2021. It is on pace to surpass that figure for the fiscal year that ends in September.

“A 47-foot channel connects us consumers and businesses to the global economy and provides an efficient option for our state's exporters to send their made in Florida goods to the global marketplace,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green.

Monday’s announcement will not make everyone happy. The St. Johns Riverkeeper unsuccessfully sued to try to block the dredging because of its environmental impact on the St. Johns River.

Smoothing the riverbed is expected to worsen flooding along the river, increase erosion on the shoreline and worsen saltwater intrusion downstream.