JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott, on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway in North Jacksonville, announced on Monday that he's giving $36 million to JaxPort to fix the navigational hazard known as Mile Point.
It's a place where the St. Johns River meets the Intracoastal. The currents are strong there, and as a result, large cargo ships can only enter and leave the port at certain times of the day.
"As ships and loads become larger so do the demands on our ports," said Scott.
Fixing Mile Point will make JaxPort more accessible, making it open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"JaxPort is a primary economic engine for northeast Florida, supporting more than 65,000 jobs and generating a total of $19 billion in annual economic impact," said Scott.
The Mile Point project will bring 3,500 good-paying jobs to Jacksonville: Jobs on docks, on the rails, in trucking, with an average salary of $45,000 a year.
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said, "And I can tell you, as mayor of this great city, where we have almost 40,000 people out of a job, what better way to focus on something that is really going to put people back to work."
Scott said the Mile Point fix was supposed to be a federal project. But he says it's taken too long to get the money, and Florida needs those jobs now. "Florida's 15 ports are such a vital part of providing families with jobs, we have absolutely made them a top investment priority during my administration," he said.
In addition to the $36 million from the state, $2 million more will come from JaxPort and the Army Corps of Engineers to get the job done.
A design for the project should be finished by mid-year. Work on Mile Point will take between 12 and 18 months.