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New fight for future dredging at JaxPort

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Updated: 10/25/2013 8:12 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's a new game plan to ensure authorization for St. Johns River dredging doesn't sink in Washington.

Northeast Florida congressional leaders Corrine Brown and Ander Crenshaw are quarterbacking a bipartisan plan to push forward with the deepwater project at JaxPort.

They know how much is at stake.

"There are 90,000 jobs on the line and they're not just jobs, they're good-paying jobs," said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville.

A who's-who list of movers and shakers, including Brown, Crenshaw, state Rep. Lake Ray and JaxPort CEO Brian Taylor, gathered in Talleyrand to proclaim all hope isn't lost.

They are focused on convincing Congress to authorize dredging the 40-foot channel to 47 feet.

An amendment to do that was left out of a big bill of national water projects because a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won't be ready by the end of the year. It's projected to be complete in April 2014.

"That was not our last chance, that was our first chance," said U.S. Rep. Crenshaw.

According to the congressman, a glimmer of hope resides in the U.S. Senate. Its version extends the window to get congressional approval up until the president signs off on the water bill.

That's plenty of time for the Corps to get its report completed in April.

"So the good news is, that's a fallback position," said Crenshaw. "But we've got lots of other opportunities, and yes, we're disappointed we didn't win the first crack. But again, that was the first, not the last."

The legislation still has to be hashed out in a conference committee. The lawmakers will find a compromise between the House and Senate version.

The House's water bill did include approval for the Mile Point project. Moving forward on that creates an estimated 3,000 jobs during its construction phase.
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