The plans to deepen as much as 13 miles of the St. Johns River from 40 to 47 feet are the subject of a public forum set for Tuesday night.
Jacksonville’s main shipping channel is a 21-mile stretch of the St. Johns River extending from the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean to the Jacksonville Port Authority’s (JAXPORT’s) Talleyrand Marine Terminal.
Deepening the harbor is essential to meet the needs of larger cargo ships transiting the Suez Canal today – and the expanded Panama Canal – as those vessels deliver cargo to JAXPORT terminals.
A 47-foot depth for the federal channel would position JAXPORT as the first U.S. East Coast port of call for fully loaded New Panamax class vessels. However, environmentalists say the project could compromise water quality and destroy many of the river’s ecosystems.
Billee Bussard from the Beaches Democratic Club will be sponsoring the forum, according to the WJCT.
The list of panelists includes JAXPORT CEO Brian Taylor, David Jaffee who heads up the University of North Florida’s Ports Project and John Orth with the St. Johns Riverkeeper. The forum starts at Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Neptune Beach Public Library.