In early February, The Dutra Group began work on the Jacksonville Harbor deepening project, which will deepen the navigation channel from 40 to 47 feet. The U.S. Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District awarded the first phase of the project – Contract A – for $22,826,400 in September 2017.
Jacksonville Harbor is a part of the St. Johns River, and deep draft navigation vessels transit the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean to the Main Street Bridge in downtown Jacksonville. The harbor has an authorized project depth of 40 feet from mile 0 to mile 20 and an authorized project depth of 34 feet to mile 22.
The Chief’s Report for the Jacksonville Harbor Channel Deepening Study was signed in April 2014.
St. Johns River at Mile Point project was completed in 2016 in anticipation of the harbor deepening project. Mile Point, along the north shore of the St. Johns River and east of the Intracoastal Waterway, was known to experience difficult crosscurrents on the ebb tide. Manson Construction Company removed an existing 3,100-foot training wall and built a new 4,250-foot training wall, dredging 43,000 cubic yards for a new channel.
On April 7, 2017, the St. Johns Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit against the Corps seeking to review the Record of Decision, under the National Environmental Policy Act. The complaint was seeking injunctive relief to stop the project from beginning, before further environmental studies were completed. In late January, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard denied the motion for a preliminary injunction and work on the project has continued.
The Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement was originally authorized through the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in 1999 and included deepening the main channel from a project depth of 38-feet to 40-feet from the entrance channel to about river mile 14.7. The original General Reevaluation Report (GRR-II) which looked at project depths beyond 40 feet did not have sufficient benefits at the time. In 2013, the GRR-II got a second look at deepening the existing federal channel from a project depth of 40 feet to up to 50 feet.
The final project would deepen the channel depth of the St. John’s River to 47 feet from the entrance channel to approximately river mile 13. Widening of the channel and turning basin will also be required. The overall plan will dredge approximately 18 million cubic yards of material. Some confined rock blasting will also be needed prior to dredging. The project also anticipates that maintenance dredging for the area will increase by 137,000 cubic yards each year.
The initial work, Contract A includes dredging around 3 million cubic yards from the entrance channel (Bar Cut-3) to slightly west of the Mayport Ferry (Cut 7). The Dutra Group will transport dredged sediment to the Jacksonville Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site, located at six miles southeast of the entrance channel jetties.
Work will take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week until completion, which is expected in July 2019.