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Trailer Bridge, Jaxport sign $62M terminal lease agreement

Florida port reports end of SSA berth work and beginning of Sea Lead service

Trailer Bridge CEO Mitch Luciano, center left, and Jaxport CEO Eric Green shake on the new $62 million lease agreement. (Photo: Jaxport)

Trailer Bridge inked a deal Monday for the terminal operator to stay at Jacksonville, Florida’s, Blount Island through at least 2041.

The Jacksonville Port Authority’s board unanimously approved the $62 million lease agreement, which calls for Trailer Bridge to occupy about 34 acres at Blount Island.

Jacksonville-based Trailer Bridge provides a twice-weekly barge service between Jaxport and Puerto Rico. 

“Our partnership with Jaxport began more than 30 years ago and today we celebrate the next chapter in our commitment to serving the island of Puerto Rico,” Trailer Bridge CEO Mitch Luciano said in a press release. “We are proud to be a critical piece of the supply chain that delivers the goods our neighbors on the island need in their everyday lives.” 

Joel A. Pizá-Batiz, executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA), said in a statement released by Jaxport that 22% of the cargo that moves between Jacksonville and the island flows through Trailer Bridge.

“Knowing that Trailer Bridge will operate from Jaxport for another 18 years gives us a lot of commercial certainty as we plan for the future,” Pizá-Batiz said.  

Trailer Bridge is one of three ocean carriers operating between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. Jaxport also offers service to the island from Tote Maritime Puerto Rico and Crowley Maritime

Jaxport signed a memorandum of understanding with PRPA last year to continue collaborating to grow maritime trade between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.

Jaxport said it is the No. 1 U.S. port for trade with Puerto Rico, handling nearly 90% of all sea trade between the island and the U.S. mainland.

SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island

Jaxport announced last week the completion of the final phase of $100 million in berth enhancements at the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal (JCT) at Blount Island. 

The Florida Department of Transportation funded 75% of the project. Jaxport provided the remainder of the funding.

The last stage of the project, the rehabilitation of 700 feet of deepwater berthing space, was conducted in coordination with the recently completed Jacksonville harbor deepening project. 

The federal project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet was completed through Blount Island in May. The project included the construction of a vessel turning basin that allows larger vessels calling SSA JCT to turn around at Blount Island. 

SSA JCT now features 2,400 linear feet of rebuilt berthing space capable of simultaneously accommodating two post-Panamax container ships, according to Jaxport. 

SSA Atlantic is using a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration to help pay for $72 million in yard improvements currently underway at Blount Island. The improvements will allow SSA JCT to accommodate 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units annually. 

Hakuna Matata

Earlier this month SSA JCT handled the first vessel in global ocean carrier Sea Lead Shipping’s new Asia East Coast (AEC) container service

Representatives from Jaxport and SSA Atlantic presented a commemorative plaque to the crew of the 6,661-TEU Hakuna Matata to recognize the vessel’s maiden voyage to Jacksonville. 

The AEC service calls Blount Island every two weeks. The service connects Jacksonville and other U.S. East Coast ports to Nansha, Ningbo and Qingdao, China, and Busan, South Korea. 

“We are proud to add a dynamic and fast-growing company like Sea Lead to our lineup of global ocean carriers who benefit from Jacksonville’s efficiencies,” Joyssy Woody, Jaxport’s director of ocean carrier development, said in a statement. “The new service expands our connections to and from Asia while providing supply chain solutions to meet the increased demand for container capacity, particularly in the growing Southeast U.S. market.” 

Jaxport ready for larger container ships

Jaxport lays out big plans as channel deepening nears completion

Savannah harbor deepening is done

Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.