MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be in South Florida Tuesday to make an announcement regarding Everglades restoration. He’ll be joined by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.
The announcement will come Tuesday morning when Salazar and Ashe hold a news conference at the 333 pumping structure, located about eight miles west of the new Tamiami Bridge on Tamiami Trail.
The Tamiami Trail Bridge Project is designed to help restore fresh water flows to Everglades National Park and the South Florida ecosystem.
Crews are currently raising a one-mile section of Tamiami Trail into a bridge about two miles west of the intersection of Tamiami Trail and Krome Avenue.
Since Tamiami Trail acts as a “dam” between the north and south sides of the roadway, the raising of the road will allow water to flow freely under the bridge and reconnect fresh water flows, however, experts say it’s not enough.
More bridges are needed to restore the flow of fresh water through the Everglades and into Florida Bay.
When Salazar last visited the Tamiami Bridge Project in October 2011, there was already talk of the next phase of bridges. He said then, “What we don’t have yet is we haven’t identified the funding sources for the other five and a half miles we have to get constructed.”
However, the 2012 federal budget approved in December secures more than $142 million for a range of Everglades restoration projects from the Kissimmee River to South Florida.
According to the Everglades Foundation, $97 million will go toward Everglades restoration work while $45 million will go to repairing the Kissimmee River.
The measure also includes authorization to build the additional five and a half miles of bridges on Tamiami Trail although funding for the bridges will have to be won later.
The Tamiami Trail Bridge is expected to be completed by Dec. 2013.
Also Tuesday, Salazar will attend an Everglades water supply summit in Tallahassee. That summit is to discuss next steps on restoring the vast wetlands that has suffered from years of pollution and development threats.
On Wednesday Salazar will visit Haines City to discuss new plans for the proposed Everglades Headwaters wildlife refuge north of Lake Okeechobee.