JUNE 22, 2017
JAXPORT PULLS A DEEP DREDGE END-AROUND
Port Plans to Start Dredging Without Local Consent
Frustrated by a lack of funding support, JAXPORT recently announced a new plan to dredge 11 miles of the St. Johns River channel, instead of 13 miles, in an effort to reduce the cost of the project.
JAXPORT also released a funding plan that relies on $47-$150 million from Jacksonville.
The plan calls on dredging to begin later this year, despite a lack of transparency and public scrutiny and no guarantee of future funding to complete the project:
- No formal public discussion or forum has occurred regarding the pros and cons of the proposed 11-mile project.
- No local funds have been approved, yet future Jacksonville City Councils would be expected to support the dredging after it is well underway.
- JAXPORT has not disclosed the total estimated cost required to meet its growth projections. This includes close to $1 billion for landside improvements.
- Negotiations to relocate TraPac from its state-of-the-art terminal to Blount Island are still ongoing and relocation costs have not been disclosed.
- The Army Corps of Engineers has not yet released any information updating the costs, benefits, or environmental impacts of the new 11-mile plan.
- An ongoing lawsuit is underway that was filed by St. Johns RIVERKEEPER challenging the Deep Dredge.
- The JAXPORT Board has not voted to authorize the new dredging proposal or the funding plan. The next JAXPORT Board meeting will be Monday, June 26, 2017 at 9 AM at 2831 Talleyrand Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32206.
JAXPORT is also disseminating misleading and inaccurate information about the project and has failed to fully-disclosed the total cost of the project to the public and decision-makers.
A comprehensive analysis by local logistics expert Dale Lewis using the port’s own data clearly demonstrates that JAXPORT’s job claims and economic projections are unrealistic and significantly overblown. For more information, visit southeasternports.net.
The dredging actually only makes up about 1/3 of the total cost of the expansion project. According to JAXPORT’s own strategic plan, the port would need to invest nearly $1 billion in landside improvements to meets its goals.
“JAXPORT’s effort to mislead the public, avoid public scrutiny, and commit future City Councils to support this project before it has even been fully vetted is outrageous,” declares Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper. “Many questions remain regarding the economic feasibility and environmental impacts of the Deep Dredge, and they still don’t have a plan to offset the damage that will occur to the St. Johns River.”
If the dredging begins this year, future City Councils will be expected to provide substantial funding for the continuation of the project beginning in 2020. This would potentially require significant tradeoffs involving essential public services, programs and infrastructure projects. The City of Jacksonville already has a substantial backlog of unfunded infrastructure projects that includes streets, bridges, sidewalks, and drainage. In addition, it is estimated to cost up to $700 million just to remove failing septic tanks that are polluting the St. Johns River and its tributaries.
“We cannot afford to kick the can down the road and allow this potential boondoggle in the making to begin before it has been fully vetted,” states St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman. “We are putting our river at risk, before JAXPORT has demonstrated that the dredging is a wise investment and even necessary.”
Rinaman continues, "The Jacksonville City Council and Mayor Curry must provide an opportunity for a full evaluation of the project before the Deep Dredge is allowed to proceed. They owe it to this community, our river, and future City Councils."
Click here for more information about the Deep Dredge and the concerns of St. Johns RIVERKEEPER.
Also, read these recent columns from the Florida Times-Union's Ron Littlepage: