Bush Signs Measure Ending Port Authority

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Saunders, Times-Union staff writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Say bon voyage to the Jacksonville Port Authority.

After years of debate and political wrangling, Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday signed into law a plan that will abolish the authority on Oct. 1 and create separate agencies to run Jacksonville's seaports and airports.

The plan, which sailed through the Legislature this spring, will change the operations of two of the most important parts of Northeast Florida's economy.

Supporters, such as Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, say the plan will lead to better management of the city's three seaport terminals and four airports. The agencies will be able to specialize in the often-differing needs of airports and seaports.

"I think it will allow each segment of the port [authority] to focus on their core business," Delaney said.

The split, which has long been discussed, sparked a political battle last year when Delaney and his allies began moving forward with it. Opponents argued, in part, that the split could be costly because the new agencies would need two sets of workers to handle administrative jobs.

State approval was required because the Legislature created the port authority in the 1960s. But with Delaney, the Jacksonville City Council and the Duval County Legislative Delegation backing the split, the issue did not draw any debate in Tallahassee. …