MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to South Florida on Tuesday to speak about the progress that has been made on the Everglades Restoration Project and announce the advancement of the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed removal project.
“This roadbed removal is expected to increase the flow of clean, fresh water into northeast Shark River Slough,” DeSantis said.
The raised road, which was constructed nearly a century ago, cuts through the Everglades and acts as a dam, blocking the natural flow of water south toward Everglades National Park.
The project, which aims to remove more than five miles of the historic road, will allow billions of gallons of water to once again flow south.
“When water’s not moving south, you have water going out to the estuaries. We don’t want it there,” said Noah Valenstein, of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “You also have, I’ll mention, our tribal nations, when we have high water levels, are having flooding on their own homes.”
The project is in its final phase and is expected to be completed by January 2022.
It’s all part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, (CERP), which the National Park Service says was authorized by Congress in 2000 to “restore, preserve, and protect the South Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.”
As part of the project, a total of 10.7 miles of Tamiami Trail in the Everglades is either being replaced by a bridge or elevated.
A document from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection stated that three miles of Tamiami Trail would be replaced by a bridge and the other 7.7 miles would be elevated.
Three bridges were completed by October 2018.
By building the three bridges, water can flow from the north side of Tamiami Trail to the south side and rehydrate Everglades National Park, which will help restore the ecosystem and make a healthier habitat for plants and animals. It will also improve the fisheries.
So, why elevate Tamiami Trail if the whole point is to allow water to flow from the north side to the south? By elevating three sections of Tamiami Trail, water will be forced to flow underneath the three bridges that are adjacent.
The CERP is the largest hydrologic restoration project ever undertaken in the U.S. and is costing more than $10.5 billion with a 35+ year timeline.