Tamiami Trail work to help ease high water in Everglades

 

Cmorgan@MiamiHerald.com

Water managers on Friday completed the removal of a remnant of the old Tamiami Trail roadbed about 30 miles west of Miami, the latest emergency move to help relieve high water in the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee.

The project, which took a week and cost about $66,000, will allow up to 7,480 gallons a second to flow south from an oversaturated state water conservation area north of the trail into Everglades National Park.

“Obviously, it’s not a cure. It’s going to take a lot more of these things but it’s a good start,” said Randy Smith, a spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District.

The work was done on a section of old roadbed just west of the ValueJet Memorial near the L-67 Canal. The old road, just south of the Trail, was abandoned long ago and was not used by vehicles. But it did act as a dam slowing water flowing south to the L-67 extension canal into the park.

Smith said the work has been approved by park managers and federal agencies.

It’s one of a number of emergency steps water managers are pursuing to lower levels in the rain-swollen Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. Releases of polluted lake water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers have fouled rivers and estuaries on both coasts and put pressure on the administration of Gov. Rick Scott to find short-term solutions.

In addition to the road work, water managers have contracted with citrus growers and other private landowners to store water on their lands. They also have diverted water into reservoir projects still under construction. Scott also pledged $90 million in state support for plans to build additional bridging along Tamiami Trail, which will increase water flow to the south.

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