Gap cut into Old Tamiami Trail to boost water flow

SFWMD plans to drain rainwater

MIAMI - A gap has been cut into an old highway west of Miami to increase the flow of water into Everglades National Park.

The South Florida Water Management District on Wednesday cut through a 35-foot-long section of the Old Tamiami Trail to drain water south from state-managed wetlands in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

District spokesman Randy Smith said high water is reducing wildlife habitat. Smith said the area also is too saturated to receive water being released to reduce pressure on Lake Okeechobee's aging dike.

"The reason being is we just had so much rainfall. It started early, it didn't stop," he said. "The water levels took away areas where the birds might normally nest, so it had a sad effect, if you will, on wildlife."

The old highway is no longer in use. The gap is several miles west of a bridge that raised a mile of U.S. 41 to improve water flow into the park. Gov. Rick Scott has proposed raising an additional 2.6 miles of the same highway.

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