SFWMD Governing Board Approves Contract to Advance Removal of Old Tamiami Trail
Agreement with Florida Power and Light to relocate power lines clears way for critical Everglades restoration project improving freshwater flows south to Everglades National Park
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved an agreement with Florida Power and Light (FPL) that will advance the removal of 5.5 miles of Old Tamiami Trail roadbed in Miami-Dade County.
The agreement includes FPL burying existing power lines, which clears the way for SFWMD to remove the old road. This critical Everglades restoration project will restore the historical flow of freshwater south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay that has been blocked for nearly a century.
“Since it was built 100 years ago, Old Tamiami Trail has created a barrier that blocks the flow of freshwater south to Everglades National Park. Removing this stretch of road will allow the water to flow south as nature intended,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Ron Bergeron. “We have seen a lot of positive momentum on restoration efforts for Tamiami Trail under the leadership and directive of Gov. Ron DeSantis. With this Board’s vote, I’m looking forward to doing all we can to move this important project forward.”
FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy added: “Our company has been deeply involved in protecting and supporting restoration of the Everglades for decades. As one of the nation’s cleanest, most reliable and most affordable energy providers with a long-standing commitment to the environment, we are proud to partner with the South Florida Water Management District on this important project which will benefit not only the Everglades, but also the people and communities we both serve.”
Work removing the road is expected to begin next spring and is expected to be completed by 2021.
Additional stakeholders applauded the Governing Board’s action.
“Gov. DeSantis made expediting Everglades restoration projects a key part of his environmental agenda, and today’s vote by the SFWMD advances a critical Everglades restoration project that restores the southern flow of much-needed water through Everglades National Park and Florida Bay,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. “The Department will continue to work closely with the water management district to expedite and advance Everglades restoration projects as quickly as possible.”
“This is very exciting news. Relocating power lines along Old Tamiami Trail is the first step to remove portions of the road and enhance the performance of the two new bridges along Tamiami,” said Celeste De Palma, Director of Everglades Policy, Audubon Florida. “This is a critical first step to remove impediments to flow into Everglades National Park and we’re grateful to the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Power and Light for making this a top priority.”
“Removing old Tamiami Trail will clear the way to flow water into Everglades National Park – water that is desperately needed to restore our national parks and connected ecosystems,” said Cara Capp, Everglades Restoration Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We applaud the South Florida Water Management District for finding ways to expedite key projects to send water south. Everglades National Park and Florida Bay will benefit from this leadership and investment.”
“Today’s announcement eliminates one of the last obstacles to removing the Old Tamami Trail,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation. “This will help to restore a strip of marsh that was paved over nearly 100 years ago before it was known as Everglades National Park. It will also allow water management infrastructure to operate more effectively. The ultimate Everglades restoration objective is to flow more water under the Tamiami Trail bridges — further to the east. The Old Tamiami Trail is a relic of the past and removing it will allow natural habitat within this Wetland of International Importance to re-establish.”