The Port of Jacksonville’s largest marine terminal is set to grow even bigger after it received a $20 million federal grant aimed at attracting larger vessels.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport) the grant as part of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, Jaxport said in a press release.
Jaxport said it will put the funds toward a $238 million project called the SSA Jacksonville International Gateway, an expansion of the Blount Island Marine Terminal.
The project includes reconstruction of more than 100 acres at Blount Island existing terminal pavement. SSA, part of the privately held Carrix Group and one of the largest marine terminal operators in the U.S., will contribute about two-thirds of the cost of the project.
SSA Marine is contributing up to $129.7 million toward the International Gateway, including the addition of three 100-gauge container cranes. Jaxport will contribute $109 million in berth rehabilitation and upgrades to allow the terminal to accommodate two post-Panamax vessels simultaneously.
Jacksonville’s shipping channel is also being dredged to 47 feet to accommodate larger vessels, with scheduled completion in 2023. Through the port’s 2019 fiscal year ending September 30, it saw total container volumes increase 5% to 1.338 million TEUs.
Jaxport said the enhancements will increase efficiency and allow the terminal to accommodate approximately 425,000 additional twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Other improvements include storm drainage, enhanced lighting, signage, utilities and more.
“The award of this highly competitive grant speaks volumes about the significance of this project to the economy of our region and country,” Jaxport CEO Eric Green said in a statement. “We are grateful to Secretary Elaine Chao and our state and federal elected officials who continue to advocate for our growth — further positioning Northeast Florida to take full advantage of the economic opportunities our thriving seaport creates.”