$1.3M grant to Port of Fernandina could reduce Amelia Island semi-truck traffic, port CEO says

The Port of Fernandina will be receiving a $1.3 million grant for the USDOT.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — Congressman John Rutherford tweeted Tuesday, saying the Port of Fernandina is getting a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Amelia island resident Kevin McCarthy tells Action News Jax he’s happy to see federal money heading to the port.

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“A little bit of money would certainly go a long way to help the port. It needs some improvement at the moment,” said McCarthy.

Worldwide Terminals Fernandina operates the port, and CEO Christopher Ragucci told Action News Jax the money will be used to improve cargo handling equipment.

By doing so, Ragucci said the port will be able to handle the shipping needs of local mills and manufacturing plants.

He said the goal is to export cargo from local plants on barges by means of the marine highway, as opposed to plants having to rely on semi-trucks.

The U.S. DOT designated the port a marine federal highway in 2019. The designation allowed the port to qualify for the grants used for improving cargo handling equipment.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the marine highway, because all those trucks could be gathered here at the port, could load them onto the barges, carry them on the marine highway north to Savannah, and eliminate those truck trips,” Ragucci said.

He tells us fewer semi-trucks would benefit the area by reducing traffic, lessening the impact on the on the environment and helping roads and highways last longer.

“You’re taking 400 trucks and putting them on one barge, with one tug boat, as opposed to 400 tractors trailers making round trips,” Ragucci said.

Neighbors, like McCarthy, said it sounds like something that could have a positive impact on the Amelia Island community and they’re eager to learn more going forward.

“That very well could be a good thing for us locally here,” said McCarthy.