Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

My Feverish Argument For JAXPORT Harbor Deepening

Metro Jacksonville's Robert Mann expresses his opinion of why dredging the St. Johns River is critical to the future survival of JAXPORT.

Published November 15, 2013 in Opinion      15 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article




#1.  A deeper harbor, this is a no brainer for the reasons explained in the 'Alphaliner.'


(PHOTO:Wiki Commons)


(PHOTO:Wiki Commons)


These photos provide graphic evidence of the future of small container ship ports. (PHOTO:Wiki Commons)

(Alphaliner is no less an authority than a weekly international newsletter filled with information and analysis on ocean shipping developments, its coverage includes key industry issues including capacity evolution, carrier profiles, volume developments, trade lane features, service schedules, vessel orders and deliveries, scrapping, shipyard and terminal development updates):






How much would you invest to provide port facilities for this vessel? This is what is being suggested by the anti-expansion crowd.


#2.  An on dock rail. The proposed intermodal yard needs tracks that are easily accessible from the dockside in the terminals, to allow for ship to rail car loading.




#3.  We need to explore running that Blount Island branchline straight west (under port or joint railroad control) to Dinsmore (the electric transmission line right-of-way would be a ripe cherry) then south to Westlake. This idea would take the JAXPORT Railroad in a crescent around the north side and west side of the city. It would open direct access to the NS 'Simpson' container yard, as well as the massive CSX facility in the same neighborhood. As the Florida East Coast and the NS both have run-through agreements (meaning the trains of one road can move seamlessly right on through over the other road) thus this line would be a defacto connection with the FEC RY as well. This also presents an opportunity to run a spur onto airport property where another, smaller, container facility could be located, as well as rail access to the free trade zone.

#4.  Get active and recruit every logistical “value added: business in the country. We need to follow in Savannah, and other busy ports’ footsteps so people at least know where Jacksonville is.

#5.  The Dames Point Bridge can be raised. Raising a cable stayed bridge is pretty elementary. Perhaps we were too hasty in turning down the Gulftainer deal which promised to assist us with channel deepening as well as pay for the bridge and power lines to be raised. My engineering connections have said we should be able to squeeze another 12' feet of height.



#6.  A joint JAXPORT-CLAY COUNTY MULTI-MODAL RIVER PORT


(Photo: Huntsville Logistics Center)


(Photo: Huntsville Logistics Center)


Huntsville Logistics Center, Huntsville, Alabama, is a similar idea - minus the waterway... IMAGINE! (Google Image)


Huntsville Logistics Center (Google Image)


Virginia Port Authority Barge Traffic (Photo: Wiki Commons)


The pre-development facility in Green Cove Springs far exceeds anything Huntsville has had to construct... IMAGINE INDEED! (Google Image)

A joint JAXPORT-CLAY COUNTY Port could be a reality and cause our interstate barge traffic to swell. The old Navy base in Green Cove Springs is an excellent port for barges and shallow draft ships. It once had some 400 navy ships tied up at the docks. Consider this, the old airport (with short 5,000 foot runways) could easily be reopened and the east-west and north-south runways extended and thickened to 8,000 and 12,000 foot standards. This done and the former Lee Field, which still has it's tarmac, tower and hangers intact, could handle the largest cargo planes. The old base still has an active rail system that serves various industries adjacent to the tarmac, as well as a wye 'Y' track (junction) which formerly crossed highway 16 and went dockside. Bringing rail back to dockside or even out on the massive concrete piers would truly be a piece of cake, the wye tracks and the dockside right-of-way is intact. Lastly, with highway SR-16 and the nearby highway US-17 which cris-cross at Green Cove Springs at right angles, means that the trucking sector has ready access. By building a 2-3 track container loading facility on the tarmac, and the addition of dockside rail, the Green Cove location is the only place in Florida and perhaps the south where Highway, Rail, Air Cargo, Marine Shipping, all come together in a compact way. If the TPO or Clay doesn't intervene, the FDOT is going to destroy the old airport by running the outer-beltway a couple hundred feet off the end of the runway, forever sealing it off as a minor facility - if anything at all.

A multi-modal Air-Rail-River-Highway container facility at this location would be one-of-a-kind in the Southeastern USA. Attracting barge and a myriad of air cargo and trucking concerns along with the sundry follow-on industrial development would be elementary. Huntsville has become a world destination for cargo and industry starting with far less then Clay is sitting on. Like the proverbial citizens of Botswana, walking barefoot over diamonds, Clay County and the Jacksonville/Clay MSA may be ignoring the obvious.






#7. PASSENGERS



Here is a similar terminal in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada (Photo: Prince Rupert Port Authority)

Passenger improvements are needed as is a long term contract for a cruise ship/s to use such a facility. We should be vigorous in soliciting such opportunities. Get the blinders off and look along that river, there are several places for the deep water cruise ships to call home. We own the Mayport property and the terminal alone would save the ferry and guarantee actual life in the little community. We are not Miami, or Port Canaveral, and that terminal would serve more as a mixed use neighborhood retail/restaurant center then it would a 24/7 passenger facility. When ships are in they are moving quickly to turn them and get them back out, a ship at the sea wall isn't making money so most of the time, even with 3-5 ships based here, that terminal would be 'The Terminal Shops at Mayport.'

The second and last aspect of the passenger business could make us the Miami, Port Everglades or Port Canaveral of the growing small ship cruise market. With one bold step, a joint JAXPORT/COJ/VISIT JACKSONVILLE/FL MARINE WELCOME CENTER/DOWNTOWN VISION, complex could be housed in a small stylish building along the Riverwalk. This unique little building would be a mini-cruise port, a place for visitors to get a cup of Joe or OJ, pick up a river chart, get directions to a concert or watch a short film on the city. A hybrid of the typical Freeway Welcome Centers with access directly to or from the small ships that already call on us weekly. This could be considered in the DIA as some of that 'Low hanging fruit,' all of this including the regular visits by the small ships already takes place downtown, let’s give it a house that screams WELCOME.

#8.  REBIRTH OF THE MODERN AIRSHIP



The incredible Lockheed-Martin P-791 is being put through its paces at the Skunk Works in California.(PHOTO:Lockheed-Martin Corporation)


Since 1993 airships have been built again in the Zeppelin town of Friedrichshafen and with a half dozen new Zeppelins flying again, things are getting more exciting by the day. (Wiki Commons Photo)


Aeros is now flying the worlds largest airship, and there's more to come.(PHOTO:Aeros Corporation)


(PHOTO:Wiki Commons)

The last idea may send some into fits of laughter, but I'm here to tell you, this is no joke. Rigid Airships (generally called Zeppelins) are a reality again. The P-791 by Lockheed Martin, Aeroscraft and Northrop Grumman's - Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, are already flying. Zeppelin Corporation and Russia are also getting into the game. The new airships are worlds apart from the historic zeppelins and the new group are just test beds for much larger ships to come. The fact that budget cuts might have killed the military's interest, at least for a time, is playing well for commercial use. Alaska DOT is already working with these companies to create a new transportation system. The new giants will have incredible capacity, they are VTOL or STOL aircraft, meaning vertical take-off and landing or short take off and landing. The thrust is directional meaning they can land in an oversize parking lot… like Blount Island, Imeson or JIA for example. They can cross the Atlantic sipping approximately the same amount of fuel as a 747 uses moving from the gate to the end of the runway. They can also slice a week+ ocean container voyage for high priority goods to a little under two days. This is revolutionary and if JAXPORT or the Aviation Authority has any motivation, they should be on this like white on rice. Everyone else is rolling their eyes, swapping email images of 'The Hindenburg crash,' and laughing by the water cooler, maybe so, but maybe we could join with Alaska and laugh all the way to the bank.




Editorial by Robert Mann


 PREV 1 2






15 Comments

Noone

November 15, 2013, 04:24:41 AM
interesting. It will never make it to the Jacksonville Waterways Commission.

tufsu1

November 15, 2013, 06:45:48 AM
I agree dredging is needed...and deepening too...just don't believe 47-50 feet is necessary.

Charles Hunter

November 15, 2013, 07:06:55 AM
To your point about a rail connection between Dame Point / Blount Island and the rail yards in the NW - the TPO is conducting a study now to find the best connection route.  I believe the power line is one of the options.  A major drawback to this line is that it runs through, or behind, several residential neighborhoods.  Adding the noise and dirt of frequent freight trains will generate a lot of opposition.

mbwright

November 15, 2013, 07:25:16 AM
I like the point in #5 and #6.  Too often 'old ' infrastructure is discarded, or forgotten about, and could certainly be re-used, at a minimal cost.  The Dames point should have been built taller to begin with, and if it can be raised, and paid for, it should be done.

thelakelander

November 15, 2013, 07:58:39 AM
Here's how I view Bob's points:

#1.  A deeper harbor, this is a no brainer for the reasons explained in the 'Alphaliner.'

I'm not sold that dredging the St. Johns River to 48' is worth the extra cost to taxpayers.  Neither do the Corps, which is why we have to pay the difference between their recommendation and what JAXPORT wants. That extra cost would come at the expense of other needs in the community and obviously the health of the river. As a resident who would be taxed for it, I need more verification on the ROI.

Furthermore, there are a number of other things worth investing in that will generate extra growth, revenue and job creation. You've touched on a few of them in points 2-6.



#2.  An on dock rail. The proposed intermodal yard needs tracks that are easily accessible from the dockside in the terminals, to allow for ship to rail car loading.

I agree that on-dock rail would be ideal.



#3.  We need to explore running that Blount Island branchline straight west (under port or joint railroad control) to Dinsmore (the electric transmission line right-of-way would be a ripe cherry) then south to Westlake.

I agree that NS and FEC need access to all port terminals instead of just CSX. Shippers need options and the ports that offer access to mulitple railroads will continue to have a leg up on those who don't.......regardless of channel depth. With that said, I don't see that JEA ROW happening.  Too many residential neighborhoods would be negatively impacted.



#4.  Get active and recruit every logistical “value added: business in the country.

I agree. It's definitely worked for Savannah.



#5.  The Dames Point Bridge can be raised. Raising a cable stayed bridge is pretty elementary.

Cost wise, dredging and raising the Dames Point Bridge would be a major drag to local taxpayers that would certainly come at the expense of funding quality-of-life enhancements in our community.  It's kind of like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Before hitting taxpayers up for a billion we already don't have, play a game of Sim City and invest in port needs while ignoring everything else and see what your Sims begin to think about your city management skills and leadership ability. That will cost real taxpayers a lot less money to find out we'll be screwing our community.

If we're hell bent on dredging, perhaps the focus should be on better utilizing Blount Island because we're only talking about containers. There's still a number of shipping activities that don't require anything the size of post panamax vessels.  I'd also probably start looking at forming partnerships as well. Maybe some of this stuff works better in Fernandina Beach or St. Marys as opposed to the St. Johns River.


#6.  A joint JAXPORT-CLAY COUNTY Port could be a reality and cause our interstate barge traffic to swell.

I don't see why it couldn't be considered for additional use along with places like the old Durango site in St. Marys or Fernandina Beach. However, the First Coast Beltway will screw the airside portion of it up.

Ocklawaha

November 17, 2013, 01:54:07 PM
To your point about a rail connection between Dame Point / Blount Island and the rail yards in the NW - the TPO is conducting a study now to find the best connection route.  I believe the power line is one of the options.  A major drawback to this line is that it runs through, or behind, several residential neighborhoods.  Adding the noise and dirt of frequent freight trains will generate a lot of opposition.

I am aware of the neighborhoods however there is quite a decent buffer if the tracks were centered on that right-of-way. Secondly sound barriers and/or a tree line could absorb or deflect much of the sound. Third, we are not talking about a 90 mph railroad here, and new construction means we could overpass the tracks in the residential areas both of which mitigate noise.

The only sticky point along the power lines is by the Wal-Mart on Lem Turner at I-295, it looks like the track would have to hug the highway pretty tight then go up and over it.

Charles Hunter

November 17, 2013, 02:53:53 PM
Based on the COJ property maps, it looks like the JEA corridor is about 150 feet wide.  Does seem like enough room to use sound buffers - whether natural or walls.  (If it were a highway, walls probably would be required - do the same rules apply to new RRs?)  There is still the problem (challenge!) of moving the JEA towers out of the way - and getting JEA to agree to it.

Back to the maps - looks like 10 highway crossings.  It looks like 8 of those roads could be rebuilt to go over the new RR line.  The two Interstates - I-295 and I-95 are more problematic, as the powerline crosses very near interchanges - Lem Turner/I-295 as you pointed out; and I-95/I-295 on the east end - which would make it very difficult and expensive to raise the Interstates over the rail line.

thelakelander

November 17, 2013, 03:05:27 PM
Sounds pretty expensive to me. When do we expect JAXPORT to generate enough rail traffic to warrant this?

Ocklawaha

November 17, 2013, 03:09:17 PM
I agree dredging is needed...and deepening too...just don't believe 47-50 feet is necessary.

The Emma Maersk, a new 14,770 TEU behemoth draws 52.6' feet of water. Post Panamax ships will draw 43 feet, but the newer crop known as Post Panamax Plus draws 46, and the New Panamax is at 50 feet.

It is true that we could play along for another 10-20 years in the Post Panamax arena, but as the industry has shown zero intention of stopping there, those ships too will soon get the torch.

Many of our readers may not know this (don't ask me how I know - I just do LOL!) but there are two more projects that will impact us right on the tail of getting to 47/50 feet:


China is into this 'alternative' canal for $40 Bn USD.


Meanwhile China and Colombia are pouring $7.6 Bn USD into a dry canal alternative to the Panama Canal.

Both of these projects spell larger ships, both are routes of rail or future wet canals, and both dodge the mountain ranges found in Panama's shortcut, in fact the Colombian route is all sea level. Here's what the BBC had to say about the metamorphosis we are witnessing:

Quote
What is blue, a quarter of a mile long, and taller than London's Olympic stadium?

The answer - this year's new class of container ship, the Triple E. When it goes into service this June, it will be the largest vessel ploughing the sea.

Each will contain as much steel as eight Eiffel Towers and have a capacity equivalent to 18,000 20-foot containers (TEU).

If those containers were placed in Times Square in New York, they would rise above billboards, streetlights and some buildings.

Or, to put it another way, they would fill more than 30 trains, each a mile long and stacked two containers high. Inside those containers, you could fit 36,000 cars or 863 million tins of baked beans.

A visual representation of 18,000 containers
This image from Maersk shows what 18,000 shipping containers look like in the wrong place
The Triple E will not be the largest ship ever built. That accolade goes to an "ultra-large crude carrier" (ULCC) built in the 1970s, but all supertankers more than 400m (440 yards) long were scrapped years ago, some after less than a decade of service. Only a couple of shorter ULCCs are still in use. But giant container ships are still being built in large numbers - and they are still growing.

It's 25 years since the biggest became too wide for the Panama Canal. These first "post-Panamax" ships, carrying 4,300 TEU, had roughly quarter of the capacity of the current record holder - the 16,020 TEU Marco Polo, launched in November by CMA CGM.

In the shipping industry there is already talk of a class of ship that would run aground in the Suez canal, but would just pass through another bottleneck of international trade - the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Indonesia. The "Malaccamax" would carry 30,000 containers.

The current crop of ultra-large container vessels can navigate the Suez - just - but they are only able to dock at a handful of the world's ports. No American harbour is equipped to handle them.

The sole purpose of the soon-to-be-launched Triple E ships will be to run what's called a pendulum service for Maersk - the largest shipping company in the world - between Asia and Europe. SOURCE:BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21432226

Actually Los Angeles/Long Beach COULD probably handle them today and Miami might be able to with some tweaking. We and any other riverine port is simply out of that ball game. Thus the triple E class may be about as big as the common ships get, ports that don't keep up with at least this minimum might as well start cashing in their chips.

This is why it is imperative that we get into the game within the next 10-20 years. I fear we are backing right into another infamous Jacksonville 4th and LONG situation... time for a Hail Mary.

thelakelander

November 17, 2013, 03:14:19 PM
What's the downfall in forming a partnership with GA Port Authority and doing something in St. Marys? How long do we expect those paper mills to operate in Fernandina? Given the natural depth of that waterway, either would be more ideal than dredging the St. Johns to 50'. Is this more about having everything in Jacksonville moreso than the region?

spuwho

November 17, 2013, 04:06:35 PM
Many of our readers may not know this (don't ask me how I know - I just do LOL!) but there are two more projects that will impact us right on the tail of getting to 47/50 feet:

The Nicaruaguan Canal Proposal is still just that,,,,,a proposal. Alot of people are following the Chinese money. I posted on MJ about it earlier this year.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21587218-yet-again-nicaraguans-are-letting-their-longing-trans-oceanic-canal-get-better

There are several remediation strategies being looked at for deep draft dredging. The use of abatement pools, pressure relief channels, etc. It raises the costs of the overall effort, but deals with much of the environmental impacts.

Ocklawaha

November 18, 2013, 11:06:10 PM
Many of our readers may not know this (don't ask me how I know - I just do LOL!) but there are two more projects that will impact us right on the tail of getting to 47/50 feet:

The Nicaruaguan Canal Proposal is still just that,,,,,a proposal. Alot of people are following the Chinese money. I posted on MJ about it earlier this year.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21587218-yet-again-nicaraguans-are-letting-their-longing-trans-oceanic-canal-get-better

There are several remediation strategies being looked at for deep draft dredging. The use of abatement pools, pressure relief channels, etc. It raises the costs of the overall effort, but deals with much of the environmental impacts.

That Nicaruaguan canal if they continue with the project will be deeper and wider as well as several hundred miles closer to the USA. My problem with the project is personal really, as I have held in my hands the actual blue print books for the Colombian Canal; a water-level route across the NW frontier of Choco and Antioquia, just south of Panama.

My other problem with it is the Communist backed government of Nicaragua has recently extended it's off-shore limits 200 miles into the Caribbean. Thus Nicaragua has encircled San Andres and Providencia Islands, the English Speaking islands populated by Captain Morgan, protected by Colombia and now departments (states) within Colombia.

With the anniversary of the Nicaraguan navy’s founding, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was aboard a Russian warship flotilla off their coast. Ortega, chose the occasion to announce that he would be making a territorial claim against Costa Rica to the coastal province of Guanacaste. This will probably blow over but it probably makes Ortega seem like a big man with his 3 fast speed boats and 7 old rusting frigates which make up their 800 man 'Navy.'

Colombia on the other hand has filled Nicaraguan waters with it's compact Navy which actually has/does 'blue water' missions (meaning a naval force able to project itself internationally). With at least 4 Frigates and 10-11 submarines, mostly German built me thinks it won't come to fire works.

Larger ships will still be pretty limited as to world ports because the length + air draft + draft = a combination of factors only fixable in the largest port basins, riverine ports need not apply. But if these giants like the Malacca Max types take over the primary sea lanes, then the 'new' Triple-E and Post Panamax Plus ships WILL BE the smaller craft.

Ocklawaha

November 18, 2013, 11:11:34 PM
Sounds pretty expensive to me. When do we expect JAXPORT to generate enough rail traffic to warrant this?

That's probably somewhere in the 200-300 rail cars daily if we hit the million container mark with the rail side improvements. It wouldn't take much more to warrant the rail extension, not to mention the potential of a direct tie-in to JIA, the free trade zone and the potential of reaching more then just CSX. However I'd be happily surprised to learn that they plan to continue on to Westlake, Norfolk Southern/FEC RY's and/or Cecil. The real industrial development potential of such a belt line is mammoth.

Ocklawaha

November 18, 2013, 11:17:36 PM
What's the downfall in forming a partnership with GA Port Authority and doing something in St. Marys? How long do we expect those paper mills to operate in Fernandina? Given the natural depth of that waterway, either would be more ideal than dredging the St. Johns to 50'. Is this more about having everything in Jacksonville moreso than the region?

You know I have no problem with this myself, this is why Green Cove Springs is mentioned in the article. While Green Cove Springs certainly is NOT the location for the larger ships it is a ripe fruit for EVERYTHING else.

As we are studying rail expansion, I'd like to see a study of taking a line east of Blount Island hugging Hecksher Drive to a container terminal closer/on Fort George Island or one of the other north bank islands.

St. Marys would probably have the same constrictions and it would need a much more extensive dredging project once the channel left the ICW/St. Marys River junction.

The mills in Fernandina appear pretty stable, should they leave then absolutely this (and east Hecksher) is the spot for a large, natural deep water container port.

Meanwhile if the cargo airships go commercial and we have a foot in the door, Imeson looks pretty sweet.

Ocklawaha

November 21, 2013, 07:58:33 PM
About that Jacksonville Belt Line Railroad idea? Here is an update on the Port of Miami.

Quote


Rail service to resume from PortMiami cargo
A Florida East Coast Railway train arrives at PortMiami on Tuesday afternoon in a demonstration run from the Hialeah rail yard. Rail service is being restored to the port for the first time since Hurricane Wilma damaged the rail bridge. Cargo service is schedule to resume next month (Within a week, MJ). From Miami Herald.
- See more at: http://www.internationalforeigntrade.com/page.php?nid=6396#sthash.C11QsFUt.dpuf
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.