A road to the bulkhead.

A road to the bulkhead.

Sounds outwardly simple, but that is currently the priority hurdle for the Port St. Joe Port Authority as it continues its drive to open up the Port of Port St. Joe.

In short strokes, the port’s sole tenant, in possession of agreements with the Port Authority and the St. Joe Company, the co-collaborators in port development, needs a way to move equipment and goods from point A to point B.

Point A is the Port Authority’s former Arizona Chemical site, where staging work by the wood-chip shipper is already underway, and Point B is the St. Joe-owned bulkhead on the former paper mill site.

“You have to have access to that dock,” said Port Authority board member Eugene Raffield. “We need to figure out what we can do to help our client.

“We have a client paying a good bit of money who needs access to the water. I want to try to help him.”

The obstacle is that the land over which the path runs is on St. Joe property and initial estimates on the cost of construction of a road have been hefty, according to St. Joe officials.

Raffield brought along Capt. Jim Townsend, an experienced contractor, who had mapped out the roadway and estimated what a gravel road, all that would be required in the immediate, might cost.

Townsend believed it could be done for under $150,000, roughly half the estimates St. Joe had secured, and it could be accomplished in 45 days.

Raffield said such a road is exactly what is needed and said there was potential for a source to fund the construction of the road; the caveat an agreement with St. Joe for public, or Port Authority, ownership, at least by lease or easement, of the road.

Raffield requested a meeting among officials from the Port Authority, St. Joe and the wood-chip shipper to iron out details, the quicker the better with potential funding, from the state and oil spill fine monies, in the near future for port development.

“There is not better timing that to have activity at that port,” Raffield said.

On another development front, after requesting more refinement of geo-tech data in attempt to reduce overall costs, Mott MacDonald, the port’s engineers, will in the coming weeks work on final drawings for spoil site infrastructure.

The work evolved from discussions with a dredging firm that would likely be involved in the dredging of the federally-authorized shipping channel as well as any dredging involved with spoil infrastructure construction.