MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s efforts to restore the Everglades received a $60 million boost Monday from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Monday, the DOT matched the state of Florida’s $40 million in order to complete the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Phase II project.
The money would be used for key Everglades restoration projects designed to help water flow more easily south to the Everglades including the raising and reconstruction of the remaining 6.5 miles of the eastern Tamiami Trail.
“Expediting the Tamiami Trail project is a key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Elevating the trail will allow for an additional 75 to 80 billion gallons of water a day to flow south into the Everglades and Florida Bay,” said Governor DeSantis. “I thank President Trump and his administration, including Secretary Elaine Chao, for yet again proving their dedication to the people of Florida as we work to restore our water quality and protect our environment.”
Tamiami Trail, a historic roadway connecting Tampa and Miami, has long been recognized as a barrier that restricts water flows into Everglades National Park. This final Tamiami Trail Next Steps project will work in combination with the Central Everglades Planning Project to enhance the connectivity and sheetflow between the marshes north and south of the Tamiami Trail.
In recent years, long bridges have been built on Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County to allow portions of the roadbed to be removed to let more water pass including a one-mile eastern bridge completed in 2014 and the 2.3 miles of western bridges completed in April 2019. This project will “once and for all complete 100% of the work required on the Tamiami Trail before water can fully flow from the northern part of the system,” according to Everglades National Park officials.
In addition to removing the water flow issue, completion of the project will address a key regional water flow imbalance and sustain a critical transportation link between Southwest Florida and Miami.
“I commend Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation for awarding $60 million in federal funds, plus a nearly $40 million state match, to raise the unbridged sections of the Tamiami Trail,” commended Senator Marco Rubio in a statement. “Without this critical funding to raise the road, recently authorized projects to the north, including the Central Everglades Planning Project and the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir would not be able to achieve their full restoration capabilities.”
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also released a statement supporting the decision.
“I have continuously worked to ensure that Everglades Restoration remains a top priority in Congress. The Tamiami Trail project is just one component of that restoration plan, and once completed will provide increased water flows south of the trail,” said Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.
Everglades National Park officials say the park has been deprived of its fresh water for many decades and this project will allow water managers to significantly increase water flows rehydrating the 1.5 million acres of park lands, including Florida Bay.
“Projects like this one are made possible by the full cooperation and collaboration between federal and state agencies. We are very fortunate to have the strong support from our partners in the State of Florida, as well as many members of the Florida delegation who have supported this project from the beginning,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos.
Senator Rick Scott is applauding the announcement as well.
“As Governor, I fought to fund the Tamiami Trail Modification Next Step Phase I and championed significant funding for the Everglades, Florida’s springs, beaches and state parks. That included more than $2 billion to restore the Everglades and South Florida’s ecosystem. I would like to thank President Trump and DOT Secretary Elaine Chao for building on our efforts by awarding the $60 million I requested for this vital project. I look forward to continuing this strong federal-state partnership to finish the Tamiami Trail and continue our mission to preserve Florida’s historic Everglades National Park.”