President Trump funds JAXPORT harbor deepening project

Emily Echevarria, Government Reporter

Jacksonville made its mark on President Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021, with the Jacksonville Port Authority awarded $93 million to deepen the harbor to 47 feet. 

The Jacksonville Port Authority, or JAXPORT, released a statement on Monday celebrating the news. 

“A milestone for the project and a major victory for JAXPORT, the federal government has now fully funded the government’s portion of deepening through JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal,” said the press release

JAXPORT is Florida’s largest container port and is one of the largest commercial cargo ports on the East Coast. The harbor is currently at 40 feet deep, and the project will allow the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island to hold two post-Panamax vessels at the same time. 

Deepening the harbor is essential to meet the needs of larger cargo ships transiting the Suez and Panama canals as those vessels deliver cargo to JAXPORT terminals. A 47-foot depth for the federal channel will position JAXPORT as the first U.S. East Coast port of call for fully loaded New Panamax class vessels,” says the JAXPORT website regarding port improvements.

The press release from JAXPORT also notes that an estimated 15,000 jobs will be created or protected by the deepening of the harbor, according to an economic impact study. Further, it was projected to, “return $24 for every $1 invested.”

The total investment is split amongst two sections, with $57,543,000 allocated specifically through the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Fiscal Year 20 Work Plan. The US Army Corps of Engineers has worked closely with JAXPORT in conducting environmental and engineering studies for the deepening of the channel. 

“The Army Civil Works budget funds the planning, design, construction, and operation and maintenance of water resources projects, with a focus on the highest performing work within the three main Civil Works mission areas: commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration,” said the USACE in a news release on Monday.

Within Trump’s budget, the section on the funding granted to Army Corps of Engineers states, “The Budget keeps the Federal Government’s promise to complete ongoing construction projects that provide a high economic or environmental return to the Nation or address a significant risk to public safety more quickly and more cost-effectively.”

The additional $35,475,000 is allocated to JAXPORT through the rest of the President’s Budget, which aims to “build a better tomorrow” by expanding the economy. 

In the press release from JAXPORT, CEO Eric Green says, “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.”

The project to deepen the harbor began in 2018 and is estimated to be completed by 2023. It’s split into four segments labeled A-D, with segments A-C fully funded. 

Overall, the project costs $484 million. Of that, $394 million has already been pledged or contributed from JAXPORT, the state of Florida, the federal government, and port tenant SSA Jacksonville.

This will be, “the first project of its kind to include funding from a private business,” notes the press release from JAXPORT. 

President Trump’s proposed $4.8 trillion budget was released on Monday. In a message at the beginning of his budget, Trump writes, “To ensure this economic strength continues, I have called on the Government to reduce wasteful, unnecessary spending, and to fix mismanagement and redundancy across agencies. This includes prioritizing spending for programs that are a core function of the United States Government.”

Trump’s budget is only a proposal and will be voted on by Congress, who has the power to either adopt or reject his plans. 

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].