On April 22, Audubon Florida’s Everglades Policy Team joined U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation and other state and federal leaders in Everglades National Park to kick-off the next phase of Tamiami Trail bridging.
Since construction in 1928, Tamiami Trail has blocked the Everglades’ natural north to south flow of water, essentially cutting off the natural “sheetflow” of freshwater that ran from Lake Okeechobee to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. Through a series of bridges, the National Park Service is planning to elevate a total of 6.5 miles of the roadway to reconnect historic sloughs between Water Conservation Areas to the north of the Trail and Everglades National Park to the south. The sloughs serve as important habitat for wading birds like Wood Storks.
With a one-mile Tamiami Trail bridge completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March 2013, more water is now moving into northeast Shark River Slough, where water was historically concentrated as it flowed south in the Park. The next 2.6-mile bridge is the largest in the planned series of bridges and will ultimately provide the greatest ecological connectivity.
Bridging Tamiami Trail has long been recognized as one of the central needs for Everglades restoration and constructing the next bridge will put another piece of the restoration puzzle in place.