Harbor ceremony planned

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  • | 12:00 p.m. December 28, 2001
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by Staff

To commemorate the start of a major project to deepen the St. Johns River, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Jacksonville Port Authority will hold a “First Scoop” harbor deepening ceremony Jan. 9 at 10 a.m. at the Blount Island Marine Terminal.

The two-year project will deepen 14.7 miles of the river from its current depth of 38 feet to a maintained depth of 40 feet. The river will be maintained at a 40-foot depth, but will be deepened to 41 feet. The last foot, called overdredge, is a maintenance buffer to ensure the depth never falls below 40 feet.

A deeper harbor is essential to keep Jacksonville’s port competitive, specifically to accommodate the water depth requirements of fully-loaded cargo vessels which currently use Jacksonville’s port, and to meet the needs of new, even larger cargo ships.

“Although deepening the river by only two feet does not sound significant, it will make a big difference in our ability to handle cargo vessels,” said Rick Ferrin, Jaxport’s executive director. Every additional foot of harbor depth allows a ship to carry 600 additional 20-foot cargo containers of 8,000 more barrels of oil. This project is vital to keeping Jacksonville’s port competitive with other port cities in the South Atlantic.

Cost of the project in $31.6 million, with Jaxport paying $20.6 million, with economic assistance from the State; the federal government will pay the balance.