Juan Kuryla, deputy director of Port of Miami since 2009 and a 17-year industry veteran, has been named the new director of the Jacksonville Port Authority by unanimous vote of the port’s seven-member board on Monday.
The board’s audit committee will now develop and negotiate the contract and submit to full board approval before an agreement is reached.
Two additional finalists, Global Container Terminals’ Michael E. Moore and interim Jaxport CEO Roy Schleicher, emerged during a morning meeting of the board. The three candidates then gave public interviews before a final vote by the board.
While at Miami, Kuryla helped oversee the start of the port’s 2035 Master Plan. The document, completed earlier this year, calls for a number of large infrastructure projects. A few of the projects, such as the new port tunnel and the deepening of the port’s channel, are already under construction.
According to the latest full-year figures by the American Association of Port Authorities, moving from Miami to Jacksonville will not only increase Kuryla’s responsibilities, but will see an increase in the amount of cargo. In 2011, AAPA put Jacksonville’s volume at 16.83 million tons compared to Miami’s 7.2 million tons. Miami has ramped up its activity in the ensuing years, but Jacksonville still holds the edge. Using its own data, Jaxport saw 673,476 tons in February, a 5-percent, year-over-year rise in activity. So far this year, however, Jaxport has seen a 6-percent, year-over-year decline in tonnage.
Among his new duties at Jaxport, Kuryla will oversee the Jacksonville Harbor Channel Deepening Study, which will increase the depth of the St. Johns River from its current 40 feet to a maximum of 50 feet. The Army Corps of Engineers will finish its draft report of the project this month, moving next into the review and approval phases. The deepening work is expected to begin in 2015.
In January, Florida Gov. Rick Scott pledged $38 million toward the final phase of the project, which will fix navigational issues along the St. Johns River. A related development, the TracPac Container Terminal Project, is currently underway. U.S. East Coast container ports are vying to receive the larger ships that are expected to the transit the widened Panama Canal after 2015.
A public records request last week lead to the release of the complete list of candidates for the position, which also included Jerry A. Bridges, former head of the Virginia Port Authority; Bernard Groseclose, who resigned as chief executive officer of the South Carolina Ports Authority in 2009; Ivy Sutter, former CEO of Trailer Bridge; Rep. Lake Ray; and Jaxport Senior Director Eric Green.
Jaxport’s former CEO, Paul Anderson, now runs the Tampa Port Authority. In December 2010, Anderson, who had formerly worked as the U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner, beat out Schleicher for Jaxport’s top job. - Jon Ross