Jaxport is in the early stages of planning a port deepening project that would have implications for the entire First Coast area. The goal of the project is the deepen the river so that large cargo ships can safely pass underneath the Dames Point bridge, potentially bringing more business to Jacksonville in the way of port revenues.
However, in recent light of the latest accident concerning the Matthew’s Bridge, the Jaxport project does not have a lot of community support. Businesses, environmental activists and residents alike all fear that bringing more oversized cargo ships to Jacksonville could pose a danger for the Jacksonville community.
There are several specific issues that the project is encountering:
1. The proposed deepening would not reach the maximum depth needed for the largest of cargo ships.
2. The project is excessively expensive.
3. The project would take years to complete, requiring a great deal of upfront cost for minimal return.
The Jaxport deepening project would cost an estimated $722 million dollars. The city of Jacksonville only has $5 million dollars to get the project started, and while that is minimal in comparison to the amount needed to complete the project, it is a great deal of money considering the recent cuts to the Fire and Police Department here in town.
In a time of budget cuts, there are many who say this river deepening project is not worth the cost or environmental risk. There are physical limitations that would prohibit the river from becoming deep enough for the largest ships, and this means that Jacksonville as a port would gain little advantage for the massive investment.
The topic is still up for debate in City Council. Projects like these can have a large influence on property sales and home values in Jacksonville, so it is something worth keeping your eye on as you peruse property sales in the area.