JAXPORT challenged on jobs study with public records lawsuit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Efforts to verify a jobs study done for JAXPORT on the impact of dredging the St. Johns River has a local advocacy group going to court with a public records lawsuit.

The Public Trust is a organization that takes up the cause of protecting public lands and waters.

On Wednesday, the group filed a lawsuit in Duval County to get data from JAXPORT on a study it had commissioned that showed dredging the river deeper at a cost topping $700 million would create tens of thousand of jobs.

In the lawsuit it was cited that "35,500 direct, induced and indirect jobs annually by 2035" would be produced by increased cargo traffic if the St. Johns River was dredged to 47 feet.

"If we are going to spend $733 million, we need to know the assumptions, the facts and calculations are correct," said Andy Miller who handled the lawsuit for Public Trust.

"We complied fully with public records laws," said JAXPORT spokesperson Nancy Rubin.

Rubin said the jobs study done by Martin Associates is "rock solid."

She said the consulting company gathered information from port businesses in doing the jobs study with JAXPORT not involved in the information gathering process.

"This information was given by them to the consultant and consultant did not supply us with that information," said Rubin, who noted JAXPORT can not turn over information it does not have.

No hearing date has been set by a judge in handling the public records lawsuit.

JAX Chamber expressed disappointment in the legal action being taken by Public Trust.

"These tactics do nothing to move our city forward," said JAX Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper said the legal action is all about accountability,

"We have been advocating for a true, honest discussion on the environmental risk and economic risk," said Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman.


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