The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday, FreightWaves explores the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.
The following is an excerpt from the February 1964 edition of the Florida Journal of Commerce. David A. Howard, the founder of Howard Publications Inc., launched the Florida-based maritime and trade publication in 1959 following the success of the Jacksonville Seafarer Magazine in 1952. He and his son, Hayes H. Howard, went on to expand the Florida Journal of Commerce nationally in 1974, rebranding it as American Shipper. FreightWaves acquired American Shipper in July 2019.
Cross-Florida Barge Canal Bid Opening Set Jan. 29
The Cross Florida Barge Canal, the dream of many Floridians for more than a century, reached a significant milestone when Army Engineers set a date of January 29 for bids to be opened on the first section of excavation for the 12-by-150-foot canal, which will cross the state from Jacksonville to Yankeetown.
District Engineer Col. H.R. Parfitt said the first contract will cost about $300,000 for a one-mile excavation located at a point six and a half miles south of Palatka. The purpose of an early start of the barge canal construction at the point, Colonel Parfitt said, is to provide a water access to the first of five locks to be built on the $158 million waterway. A 12-by-100-foot waterway is in existence between Jacksonville and Palatka. The first contract will extend the 12-foot-deep channel to a point within 3/4 of a mile of the site of the St. Johns Lock in Putnam County; some 1 million cubic yards of material will be removed under the first contract.
A second contract, advertised to open in mid-February, will call for excavation of a land cut for the Cross Florida Barge Canal westward from the St. Johns Lock for a distance of several miles. Two contracts by the Army Engineers this fiscal year are expected to use up the bulk of the $1 million appropriated for work before June 30. Some of the funds will be used to prepare engineering data for future works.
The primary purpose of Cross Florida Canal is to shorten the bare travel distance from the Mississippi River and points west to the east — and vice versa. The saving in distance will be 360 miles as compared with using the 8-foot-deep Okeechobee Waterway, and 610 miles as compared with the open water route around Key West.
Colonel Parfitt said the site of the first contract starts at a point on the St. Johns River in the vicinity of Stokes Landing and extends westerly for one mile by land cut to a point about 3/4 of a mile from the St. Johns Lock site. The successful bidder on the job will be required to start work within 30 days after the contract is awarded and complete the entire excavation within 180 calendar days. The canal will extend some 107 miles from deep water in Palatka to the Gulf of Mexico. When completed the route will be 12 by 150 feet and vessels traversing the 167-mile distance will go through five locks designed to keep groundwater levels at the natural elevation; each lock will be 84 feet wide and 600 feet long. In the 1930s, a sea-level ship canal was started as a relief-work measure but was discontinued. The present project calls for a high-level lock barge canal. The project was authorized by Congress in 1942 and advance planning was resumed in 1962.
Bids on final segment of waterway deepening
Bids for the final segment of deepening and widening the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway will be opened at the same time. This work is for the 20-mile stretch from Port Everglades to Miami and is estimated to cost $900,000.
The east coast Intracoastal Waterway is 12 feet deep and 125 feet deep from Jacksonville to Fort Pierce and will be 10 feet deep and 125 feet wide from Fort Pierce to Miami as soon as the final segment is completed. Existing dimensions of the Port Everglades to Miami section are 8 by 100 feet, according to Army Engineers.
Colonel Parfitt said approximately 900,000 cubic yards of material will have to be dredged from the waterway in the forthcoming deepening-widening project. He said the successful bidder will be required to start work within 30 days after the contract is awarded and complete the job at the rate of 155,000 cubic yards per month. This would mean that the completion of the enlargement will take about six months.
Two contracts for enlarging earlier sections of the southern end of the waterway — one between Delray and Oakland Park and the other from Oakland Park to Port Everglades — are still underway. Both segments are scheduled to be completed in the spring of 1964. The dredging from West Palm Beach to Delray Beach was finished just recently.