Jacksonvillle’s port has taken a major step with a 25-year, $238.7 million contract to expand facilities at Blount Island, linked to the harbor deepening project.
But, incredibly, there are naysayers.
Under the agreement, SSA Marine LLC’s 50-acre International Gateway Terminal facility would increase to 80 acres by 2023 in order to increase service for Asian shipping lines. According to the Jax Daily Record, SSA will invest about $129 million in the project.
The Jacksonville Port Authority will use the money to help dredge the St. Johns River from the ocean to Blount Island, a $484 million effort funded in part by the federal government.
By dredging to a depth of 47 feet the port can accommodate the bigger ships that now are passing through the widened Panama Canal from Asia.
But, objections are being raised by the St. Johns Riverkeeper.
This far-left environmental organization typically opposes any business opportunity in the area, under the pretext of “protecting the river.” It already has filed a lawsuit designed to hamper the deepening project.
It predicts all kinds of environmental harm will result from river dredging.
In fact, the river is much healthier than it was 50 years ago, despite more than a century of dredging and growth.
The 300-mile St. Johns River is a slow-moving river, and once was so shallow as it turns in downtown Jacksonville that cattle forded there, giving the city its early name of Cowford.
But in the 19th century the Army Corps of Engineers began dredging, and built jetties to protect the mouth of the river from silting.
Over the decades, millions have been spent continually deepening the channel for shipping, which has provided the city with billions of dollars and thousands of jobs through its port operations.
At the intersection of two major interstate highways in the corner of the nation, a rail head, an international airport and a major seaport, the city is geographically situated to be a major transportation junction.
Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman said the agreement validates the city’s decision to proceed with dredging.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Bowman told the Record. “This is the justification of why we’re doing the dredging, of why this port is on an amazing growth path.”
Legitimate concerns are one thing. Knee-jerk opposition to progress is another.