Blount Island Marine Terminal Wharf

Blount Island terminal with sun setting in background

Blount Island Marine Terminal Wharf

Rehabilitation and Reconstruction with No Delays to Ship Calls

The Blount Island Marine Terminal, known as BIMT, is the largest marine facility at the busy Port of Jacksonville, Florida and one of the largest vehicle import/export centers in the United States. A program of inspections and capital improvements on the Blount Island wharves has not only kept them in working order but also upgraded the port’s infrastructure — with thoughtful, phased use of constrained funding — to meet current and future needs with minimal impacts to operations and no delays to ship calls.

Condition Assessment Prompted Innovative Modernization

A 2010 inspection of wharves at BIMT revealed severe concrete delamination and underdeck reinforcement corrosion of the wharf serving berths 30-35 (4,700 linear feet), forcing JAXPORT to load restrict portions of the busy facility. Keeping tenants operating and cargo moving until live load restrictions could be lifted became an urgent priority.

The rehabilitation plan resulting from the condition assessment originally covered all berths (30-35) and addressed the varying work needed based on the condition of each berth. Full replacement would have been ideal, but budget wasn’t available. HDR developed an interim rehabilitation design for berths 31 and 32 that restored operations for a fraction of the cost to replace the structure. When more funding was later available, HDR designed and oversaw the full replacement and modernization of berths 33-35. The chosen solutions adapted to operating needs and built-in owner options for maximum control over budget and construction.

Rehabilitation and Repair

Interim rehabilitation of berths 31 and 32 (1,800 linear feet) reused much of the existing piling and caps, but fully replaced the wharf decking. Once construction began, and covered elements were more completely exposed, the waterside crane beam was determined to be in worse condition than believed and was replaced.

Meanwhile, other BIMT facilities required alterations or improvements to maintain ongoing operations. HDR designed repairs to berth 30 that were specific to the operational requirements of the tenant. By observing how the tenant loaded containers onto sea-going barges via a roll-on/roll-off operation, or RO-RO, and then carefully analyzing the existing structure, HDR was able to develop a deck strengthening solution that allowed operations to continue without interruption. Our design allowed the contractor to perform all necessary demolition and construction in one or two locations at a time between vessel calls. All repairs were completed within six weeks without vessel delays or negative impacts to operations. 

Reconstructing Berths 33-35

In 2013 JAXPORT was ready to embark on full reconstruction of berths 33-35 to accommodate deeper dredge depths and upgrade their outdated 50-foot gauge diesel ship-to-shore gantry cranes. HDR provided programming, planning, design and construction oversight services for $100 million in new construction of a full replacement of approximately 3,500 linear feet of wharf designed for a minimum service life of 50 years.

The project modernized the facilities at BIMT to serve new post-Panamax container ships, allowing the port to suit needs well into the latter half of this century and substantially increase its throughput capacity. Because JAXPORT handles multiple cargo types and BIMT is not solely a container terminal, the wharf deck was designed for a 1,000 psf uniform live load and has a dedicated heavy load zone, designed for a 2,000 psf uniform live load, to handle special cargoes.

The new wharf supports container and mixed cargo operations with three 100-foot gauge electrified ship-to-shore container cranes which can reach across 22 containers stored on a ship’s deck. The design included extending the new 100-foot landside crane beam, designed for berths 33-35, into berth 32, designing a toe wall to allow for deepening of berth 32, and extending the berth 32 wharf face to match the new wharf face at berths 33-35. Significant analysis and testing of in-situ pile capacities allowed the waterside crane beam to be upgraded using the existing piles, with new piles required only to handle increased tension loads from higher capacity crane tie-downs.

Electrical Infrastructure Supports Cranes and Shoreside Power

To support the conversion from diesel-electric to electrified cranes, JAXPORT constructed all necessary electrical infrastructure, including a new switchgear building that houses the 13.2 kV medium-voltage electrical switchgear, and all associated underground distribution.

The port industry is trending toward electrification and decarbonization, and JAXPORT made provisions for future cold ironing for vessels — providing shoreside electrical power to a berthed ship. During phase one of this project (berths 34-35) JAXPORT upgraded that portion of the BIMT site to be infrastructure-ready with raceways/conduits and electrical infrastructure capacity for future cold ironing services to shippers.

Smart Phasing with Close Coordination

The project’s phasing plan supported a multiphase procurement which allowed JAXPORT to manage its capital budget to fit available funding. Contracts and bid strategies were tailored to provide maximum fiscal and construction risk management control. Phasing packaged the optimal amount of wharf that could be taken out of service at any given time to provide a substantial construction package to attract competitive bids, while not overly constraining port operations. 

BIMT Reconstruction was broken into phases:

  • Phase 1 – Berths 34/35 (1,285 LF)
  • Phase 2A - Berths 33/34 (700 LF)
  • Phase 2B – Berth 33 (700 LF)
  • Phase 2C - Berth 32 (900 LF).

Phase 1 was completed in 2017. Phases 2A and 2B were completed in 2022. Phase 2C construction has been postponed until terminal demands warrant the improvements.

Blount Island terminal with sun setting in background
Jacksonville Port Authority

Jacksonville, FL
United States