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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 11, 202009:54 AM EST

JaxPort announces additional federal funding for port deepening

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Of the $93 million allocated, $35.5 million is in the Trump spending plan and must be approved by Congress.

The Jacksonville Port Authority announced Feb. 10 the federal government allocated $93 million for the next phase of deepening the St. Johns River.

Of the money, $57.5 million is included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fiscal Year 20 Work Plan and is a “done deal,” according to JaxPort spokesperson Chelsea Kavanagh.

The remaining $35.5 million was in President’s Trump’s $4.8 trillion fiscal 2021 spending plan released Feb. 10. That money must be approved by Congress. 

The money is part of the federal government’s contribution to deepen the shipping channel from 40 to 47 feet from the ocean to Blount Island Terminal. The new depth accommodates the large post-Panamax ships from Asia passing through the enlarged Panama Canal.

“This is a significant win for Jacksonville and as I have said before, the continued support from our state and federal partners demonstrates the strength of JaxPort’s future,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said in a news release. 

“This is the first time JaxPort has ever received funding in the President’s budget, which speaks volumes about the significance of this project to the Southeast U.S. and the nation,” said JaxPort CEO Eric Green. 

Upon completion of the deepening project, the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island will feature a vessel-turning basin and have the ability to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax vessels.

 In November, the U.S Department of Transportation awarded the port a $20 million grant to enable the facility to accommodate more containers in a larger area.

JaxPort says the federal government, state of Florida, JaxPort and port tenant SSA Jacksonville have contributed or pledged a combined total of more than $394 million toward the $484 million deepening project.

The 13-mile deepening project is divided into four segments. Current funding covers the project’s first 11 miles through Blount Island. Contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are scheduled to complete the first 5.5 miles in the spring.

The project began in February 2018 and is anticipated to be completed in 2023, two years ahead of schedule, based on continued funding. 

Trump’s budget includes $93.6 million for the expansion of Savannah’s shipping channel. The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing a $973 million deepening of the stretch of the Savannah River that connects the Port of Savannah to the Atlantic Ocean, the Associated Press reported.

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