Council President Fussell Announces Committee to Tackle Jacksonville's Seaport and Airport Infrastructure Needs

July 22, 2008  

Jacksonville City Council President Ronnie Fussell today announced the formation of a new special committee to assist the Jacksonville Port Authority and Jacksonville Aviation Authority. The committee will be charged with helping JAXPORT and the JAA find and secure the resources they need to accommodate the city's growing seaport business and the economic development opportunities at Cecil Field.

The Seaport and Airport Special Committee will be chaired by City Council member Daniel Davis and its members will include City Council members Art Graham and Stephen Joost.

 

'Our growing port and airport system present incredible economic development opportunities for our city, and this committee will help to ensure we plan and prepare properly for the associated growth,' Fussell said. 'The scope of this plan may be too large for any single entity to tackle itself, but I am confident that this new special committee, working closely with the Mayor's office, Port Authority, Airport Authority and our elected officials at the state and federal level, can marshal the resources to enhance and continue to grow our key economic engines.'

 

One critical function of the committee will be to identify potential state and federal funding sources for these improvements. The committee also will act as the liaison with local, state and federal officials to help prioritize infrastructure projects and assist with identifying funding sources that stimulate economic development.

 

In the last decade, cargo tonnage at JAXPORT has increased by more than 40 percent, with more than eight million tons of cargo shipped through the port in 2007, including nearly 800,000 containers (measured in 20 foot equivalent units, TEUs). The arrival of Mitsui OSK Lines - which began ship service to Jacksonville on July 8 - is projected to double the number of containers shipped through JAXPORT in the next few years. Current negotiations with other shipping lines could further grow this number and eventually make JAXPORT one of the top five container ports in the United States.

 

While the new business will generate thousands of new direct and indirect jobs for Jacksonville residents, the infrastructure servicing the port - particularly the roads, railroads and harbor - must be improved to accommodate this business. The special committee will place particular emphasis on road improvements needed in north Jacksonville to handle increased truck traffic and rail. Additionally, a deeper harbor is necessary to handle the larger vessels calling the port, including those brought by Mitsui and its vessel partners, as well those projected to use JAXPORT after the 2014 widening of the Panama Canal.

 

Meanwhile, Cecil Field also offers tremendous economic development opportunities for Jacksonville. The JAA recently completed a master plan for Cecil Commerce Center that envisions building more than 31 million square feet of space for aviation, office, research and development, retail, hotel, residential and mixed use.

 

The JAA is currently working on two business opportunities that would bring jobs and economic impact to Cecil Field. Alenia North America recently announced its intent to establish a new final assembly and production facility for the joint U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft at Cecil Field.

 

The JAA and Florida Community College at Jacksonville are developing an airplane paint facility at Cecil Field.