Sea level rising may force tough decisions for Keys officials, homeowners

Roadway elevation could cost $128 million to save a handful of homes by 2045

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – A stretch of road in the Florida Keys is taking center stage at a climate summit as the cost to save it may be too much.

A nearly three-mile stretch of road near southern Sugarloaf Key needs to raise just over 2 feet to keep up with rising sea level and peak tides, a study shows.

During a presentation at the 11th Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit in Key West, Monroe County administrative officials highlighted a few residential areas that face dire circumstances, citing a recent study that says it would cost $128 million by 2045 to raise the roadway.

The effort would save only a handful of homes and officials warn it may be impractical to prevent flooding.

“It’s unacceptable, it’s unbelievable and we are in shock with that,” resident Emilie Stewart said.

The presentation comes as some residents were seeing dry land in their neighborhoods after roadways were recently underwater for more than 45 days.

“Does it make sense, for example, to spend $10, $12, $15 million dollars to upgrade a road for two or three homes,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “Probably not.”

Residents in the area were handing out fliers encouraging neighbors to attend a County Commission meeting on Dec. 11 to specifically address flooding issues.

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