Friday, February 18, 2011

Tamiami Trail Bridges Ok'd, plan heads to Congress

A one-mile bridge rises over Tamiami Trail.
5.5 more miles are hopefully on the way
It’s official! The National Park Service (NPS) on February 14, Valentine's Day, gave the final go ahead on a plan to build 5 1/2 miles of bridges over Tamiami Trail to restore fresh water flow into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. The larger project expands on the one-mile bridge now under construction providing “more than five times the connectivity between marshes” and “unconstrained flow patterns.” Moreover, 10 of the historical sloughs that once flowed unobstructed would be reconnected.

Miami Businessman Frank Jaudon built his road across the Everglades in 1928, in large part to drain land and provide access for development. The Depression, the following year, scuttled his plans; however the road continues to cut off water flow to the great wetland. Sierra Club, which has long advocated for the bridging of Tamiami Trail, applauded the Park’s bridge plan and looked forward to starting construction.

The Record of Decision (ROD), signed by NPS’s Southeast Regional Director David Vela, means that Congress can now review the plan for authorization and funding. The ROD caps an approximately 18-month review process requested by Congress in 2009. The project is strongly backed by the Everglades Skyway Coalition whose members include municipalities, business and civic groups and environmental organizations. Bridge construction will generate more than 7,100 jobs.

Earlier this year, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his commitment to the 5.5 mile bridge plan saying: “It will be one of my highest priorities as Secretary, and I intend to work with the new Congress until it is done.”


Read the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Final Environmental Impact Statement at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkID=374&projectID=26159

-- Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizer, Sierra Club