In 1961, the Palatka Barge Port opened with the construction of a 400 bulkhead designated to support commercial barge traffic along the St. John’s River. In 1967, the Florida State Legislature passed legislation establishing the Putnam Port District, designating the county commissioners as the membership of the Port Authority, and, authorizing the Port Authority to levy and collect taxes within the Port District. This act led to the construction of two 20,000 square foot warehouses to support trade activities at the Palatka Barge Port.

Difficult economic times in the region resulted in a reduction of waterborne commercial traffic on the St. John’s River leading to a cutback in commercial activity at the port facility. Over time, silt accumulated in the port’s access channel due to lack of traffic and multiple hurricanes and large thunderstorms.

Construction of the First Coast Expressway in North East Florida will bring major changes to transportation in the area including the replacement of the current Shands Bridge with a new one with both a wider navigable channel and greater vertical clearance permitting sizeable commercial vessels to navigate up river from Green Cove Springs. This unique opportunity spearheaded the joint efforts of the US Army Corps of Engineers, state and federal legislators, regional business partners, and Putnam County government to restore the port’s navigable access channel and develop the port facility to accommodate the needs of our growing local businesses. Objective is to re-open for business by 2026.

Goals & Objectives

  • Developing both a five and ten year business plan
  • Open up for commercial business in conjunction with the opening of the new Shands Bridge across the St John’s River
  • Develop regional multimodal facility

Current or Planned Investments

  • One million dollar property expansion with acquisition of adjacent 16 acre property
  • $300,000 towards the US Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study
  • Two million dollar cost share in the dredging of the access channel and turn basin to restore commercial vessel access
  • $105,000 cost share in the development of a ten year business plan for the port facility.

Accomplishments

  • Continuing Authorities Section 107 project initiated by US Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the access channel
  • Designated as a member of the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council by the Florida State Legislature.

Mission

The Putnam County Port Authority was established in 1967 and authorized to carry out public purposes of benefit to the citizens of Putnam County and the state of Florida.