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Photo by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - North Florida Logistics Advisory Group founder George Gabel describes the background and history of the North Florida Freight, Logistics and Intermodal Development Plan released Thursday.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 14, 201212:00 PM EST

Northeast Florida logistics plan highlights industry focal points

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

A local freight and logistics plan that could be used in the development of state and federal programs was released last week, citing a need for improving infrastructure, markets and business climate.

Two years ago the City, Jacksonville Port Authority, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, Florida Department of Transportation and JAXUSA Partnership contributed funding toward the development of a local regional freight and logistics plan. Results were released Thursday to several of the contributing entities.

"The value of this plan is to be at the front of the process," said Rob Palmer, project manager for RS&H.

That "process" is the state's response to Florida HB 599, which requires the state's transportation department to develop a freight mobility and trade plan for the state, and "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century," signed by President Barack Obama in July, which calls for the creation of a national freight strategic plan.

"We need to spend the next 12 months getting ourselves included in those processes," said Palmer.

RS&H, Cambridge Systematics Inc. and Martin Associates developed the plan and studied the ports of Jacksonville and Fernandina; military and private ports; rail services of CSX, Norfolk Southern and Florida East Coast Railway; intermodal rail terminals; Jacksonville International Airport; and the regional highway system.

The plan focuses on the areas of infrastructure, markets and business climate.

The recommendations for infrastructure include supporting the North Area/Jacksonville International Airport Corridor rail feasibility study, focusing on intermodal yards and considering alternative fuels and green ports policies.

The markets recommendations include protecting existing markets, working to recapture Asian containers and expansion of manufacturing and distribution centers.

The business climate recommendations include ensuring projects were judged on their return on investment, enhancing the logistics advisory group's involvement in the process, supporting regional transportation initiatives and enhancing industry education programs.

North Florida Logistics Advisory Group founder George Gabel viewed the study as evidence for the region's claim of being the "Logistics Capital of America."

"It helps show the potential we have as a logistics center and gateway for Florida," said Gabel.

Palmer discussed the study withabout 30 attendees of the North Florida Advisory Group last week.

"The region has to demonstrate its national significance. You have the assets in this room to do that," said Palmer.

The plan will be available to the public by the end of the month, Palmer said.

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