The Jacksonville Port Authority authorized its executive director to negotiate for a contract to build a new container terminal for Hanjin Shipping.
The go-ahead comes a year after the authority's staff committee delayed selection of a top-ranked engineering firm for the project due to labor problems.
"Negotiations with Halcrow will begin today (Thursday) on price, and an acceptable contract could be brought to the board for approval in January," said Nancy Rubin, a spokesperson for Jaxport.
If Jaxport's interim Executive Director Chris Kauffmann is unable to agree on the price of the contract, which is for an estimated $300 million, the board approved negotiations with one of the other two engineering firms that were selected in the bidding process, CH2M Hill and Moffatt & Nichol.
Jaxport halted design work on the Hanjin terminal a year ago when Hanjin could not reach agreement with the International Longshoreman's Association for manning levels at the new terminal, which will be designed to include a high level of automation. Hanjin will operate the terminal under a 30-year lease.
Hanjin reached agreement with the ILA on manning levels in September, clearing the way for Jaxport to begin contract negotiations.
The Jacksonville terminal, which is scheduled to open in 2014, will resemble APM Terminals' Portsmouth, Va., facility, where containers are shuttled across the terminal yard by driverless, computer-guided cranes. Hanjin opened a similar automated terminal in August at Algeciras, Spain.
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