News: Obama stresses importance of ports in Jacksonville
Story by Amanda Ellison
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - President Barack Obama stressed the importance of maintaining the nation’s ports and aging infrastructure to a standing-room-only audience at JAXPORT in Jacksonville, Fla., yesterday.
Hundreds gathered to hear Obama’s plan for moving the economy forward, starting with passing legislation to authorize two port projects that would put people back to work in Jacksonville.
“In a couple of years, new supertankers are going to start coming through the Panama Canal,” said Obama. “We want those supertankers to come here, to Jacksonville.”
Last year, President Obama passed the “We Can’t Wait Initiative,” which announced seven nationally significant infrastructure projects will be expedited to help modernize and expand five major ports in the United States, including the Port of Jacksonville.
For the Port of Jacksonville, the initiative included completing the feasibility study by April 2014, which is years ahead of previous projections. The current study is examining the benefits and costs of deepening the Federal Navigation Channel from its existing authorized project depth of 40 feet to 47 feet.
“That’s why last year I acted without Congress, and I took executive decision to speed up the permitting process that gets workers breaking ground on projects like this one,” said Obama.
The chief of engineer’s report for Mile Point Navigational Study was signed last year, and is currently waiting authorization and appropriation from Congress. It is a critical project that will allow ships to safely navigate Jacksonville Harbor.
“If we want our workers and businesses to compete, then our ports have to be ready,” Obama said.