On a perfect Florida morning with bright sunshine and fluffy white clouds lazily floating across the sky, a heavy-duty excavator busily scooped up portions of the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed. Against this backdrop the South Florida Water Management District hosted a celebration of the roadbed removal project on March 30. The Governing Board of the district was joined by Governor DeSantis, agency and elected officials, and Florida’s new Chief Science Officer Mark Rains.
The Tamiami Trail roadbed has for decades acted as a dam blocking water from moving south into Everglades National Park and on to Florida Bay, starving the ecosystem of much needed water, harming wading bird and wildlife habitat, and contributing to flooding in the Central Everglades north of the Trail. Removal of the six mile portion of the roadbed is expected to be completed in January 2022 and will help restore the natural sheet flow of water under the recently constructed Tamiami Trail bridges and into Northeast Shark River Slough.
The roadbed removal project is a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and one of twenty-nine projects accelerated for completion in response to the Governor’s 2019 Executive Order “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment.” Audubon has been an ardent advocate for CERP and the roadbed removal project and looks forward to celebrating more progress towards restoring America’s Everglades.