Officials hope to speak with Obama about port issues

Published On: Jul 24 2013 10:16:36 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 25 2013 12:03:19 AM EDT

President Obama will be in Jacksonville Thursday, stopping by JaxPort to talk about the economy. But officials there are hoping they'll be able to talk with the president about an issue facing the port as well.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

During President Obama's visit to Jaxport this coming Thursday, officials at the port are hoping to speak with Obama about some of the pressing issues facing the port.

One issue Jaxport is facing is eliminating an underwater wall that was put up decades ago that's keeping a lot of ships out of Jaxport due to the barrier it creates.

In January, Gov. Rick Scott gave the okay to $39 million in funding for the "Mile Point" project. That project would demolish the wall and open up the shipping channel. 

The future of the project is now in the hands of Congress. If they okay the project, the port will allow more ships in. They also hope Obama can help speed the process up.

"I think the elevation of the conversation about what we need here has happened to the extent that we are going to receive a visit from the President of the United States tomorrow," said Nancy Rubin.  

Channel 4 also spoke with Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, about the issue. Rubio said there's a problem with the system when the state offers to pay for something and there's still red-tape due to the federal government having to okay it.

"I think everyone supports the dredging project. The two impediments have been money and authorization. Because of a quirk in the federal law, that even though the state is spending that money, the federal government had to authorize them to spend that money. And that will be cleared up in the federal version of the bill," said Rubio.

As to who will get credit if Jacksonville's port does grow, members of both political parties said different people will deserve thanks. 

"The president didn't invest in Jaxport. The feds didn't. It's Rick Scott who made an investment in the port in Jacksonville, Florida," said State Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry. 

"The president and his administration made our port a priority. His administration has focused on our port, as has our Mayorand jobs are being brought to this community," said Duval County Democratic Party Chairman, Neil Henrichsen.

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