For Immediate Release
December 04, 2009
FAX: (904) 232-1251
(BPRW) Bridging the dam and restoring water flow
- Everglades supporters gather at Tamiami Trail celebration -
Attendees praised the many agency and public stakeholders who led the quest to remove one of the most formidable barriers to freshwater flow into the parched northeastern area of Everglades National Park. The construction project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes building a one-mile bridge to replace a portion of the Tamiami Trail, an east-west highway that has blocked natural freshwater flows southward into the park for decades. The project will help revive wetland habitat for more than 60 threatened and endangered species.
Key speakers at the ceremony included U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, Terrence (Rock) Salt, principal deputy Assistant Secretary for the Army for Civil Works, Michael Sole, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Eric Buermann, chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. Col. Al Pantano, commander of Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, presided as master of ceremony.
“This marks a new beginning for the park and a major milestone along the journey to restore America’s Everglades,” Pantano said. “We are very proud to serve alongside our partners because what we’re doing in ecosystem restoration will make a tremendous difference for future generations, not only in Florida but across the nation. Engineers, scientists and many others are working together to research, design and build projects to restore America’s Everglades. The expertise we develop and lessons we learn will aid future restoration projects around the world.”
The Amy Corps of Engineers is overseeing project construction and the Department of the Interior is funding it. Other partners include the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District. In 2008, the Corps estimated the project cost to be about $200 million. Changes in the nation’s economy have dramatically decreased the project’s cost estimate to less than 50 percent of the original estimate. “This cost savings comes along with another benefit – much-needed jobs to an area experiencing a high unemployment rate,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan Kimball.
In September, the Corps awarded an $81 million contract to Kiewit Southern Company, of Sunrise, Fla., to construct the bridge and raise and reinforce an additional 9.7 miles of Tamiami Trail, which will allow higher water levels in the adjacent L-29 Canal. Higher water levels in the canal will drive flows into the park when water is needed most. Projected completion of the bridge and road-raising construction is 2013.
In 1989, Congress approved the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act so interagency partners could modify the Central and Southern Florida Project, the regional flood control system, to improve water deliveries to Everglades National Park and take steps to restore the park’s natural hydrologic conditions. Addressing Tamiami Trail’s hydrological and ecological effects is a major component of this legislation.
State and local agencies built the Tamiami Trail in the 1920s to support travel between Tampa and Miami, two of the earliest centers of population growth in southern Florida. Decades later, restoration agencies identified the trail as one of the most serious environmental threats to the Everglades.
For more Tamiami Trail project details, as well as information on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, please visit www.saj.usace.army.mil or www.evergladesplan.org.
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