- The Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport) and SSA Marine announced this month that SSA will develop and operate a new $238.7 million container facility at the authority’s Blount Island Marine Terminal in Jacksonville, Florida.
- SSA already leases 50 acres at the Blount Island facility, and the new deal will increase that space to 80 acres, with an option for 40 more. SSA will pay $129.7 million toward use of the terminal, construction and facility upgrades, including the addition of three, 100-gauge container cranes. Jaxport will contribute $109 million for berth upgrades, including a deepening project already underway, that will allow two post-Panamax vessels to use the new terminal at the same time.
- The agreement with SSA is for a term of 25 years, with two 5-year extension options. In addition to the Jaxport work, other Florida ports are also investing billions of dollars in improvements.
It has been almost three years since the Panama Canal opened a new, bigger shipping lane to accommodate larger ships, but ports in the U.S. are still catching up.
In Alabama, the State Port Authority is undertaking a $400 million deepening project that will allow Mobile to better compete with other ports for shipping business and will reduce shipping costs to other areas of the state. The work will deepen the Mobile Bay Channel by 5 feet to at least 50 feet in most locations.
There is also a push in Texas to complete port improvements, as these facilities are key to the state’s energy industry and to U.S. oil producers that ship from the Gulf Coast.
The scope of Florida's port expansions is exemplary, however. PortMiami in Miami-Dade County has sunk more than $1 billion into new infrastructure that has allowed it to serve more than 270 mega container ships that it would have otherwise had to turn away.
Port Everglades is also in the midst of a $1.6 billion capital program, including a $471 million berth expansion, which is the largest project in the port’s history. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the American Journal of Transportation, is currently dredging at Port Everglades.
Despite these and other improvements, the U.S. still falls short in port investment, according to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). In August, the organization, in a letter to Congress, said it had identified a $32 billion need for port landslide connections and facility infrastructure. In June, the AAPA said that ports needed $20 billion for multimodal port and rail access projects.