MIAMI, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis announced the completion of the Old Tamiami Trail Roadbed Removal Project, which was completed six months ahead of schedule. This project is a critical Everglades restoration project to remove nearly six miles of roadbed from the Old Tamiami Trail to allow more water to naturally flow south into Everglades National Park. In March of this year, Governor DeSantis announced the groundbreaking of the project, which was expected to be completed in January 2022.
This crucial project is a component of the larger Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which also includes the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. CEPP will help deliver additional clean water from Lake Okeechobee south to Water Conservation Area 3, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
“Sending more clean water south is essential to furthering Everglades restoration and protecting the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries from harmful discharges,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Since day one, my administration has been focused on expediting key Everglades restoration and water quality projects to protect Florida’s natural resources for future generations, and I’m proud of our record-setting progress.”
“Our administration has been focused on restoring the Everglades for generations of Floridians to enjoy,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez. “As a South Floridian, I am proud that we have all come together to recognize how important this is, and I look forward to working with the Water Management District, DEP, FWC and all of our partners to continue completing these projects at a record pace.
“I’m proud to stand here with Governor DeSantis and our partners to celebrate another important accomplishment for the Everglades,” said “Alligator Ron” Bergeron, Governing Board Member of the South Florida Water Management District. “Our completion of the Old Tamiami Trail Roadbed Removal Project means more water can flow south and help reestablish the natural flow of water from the Northern Everglades all the way down to Florida Bay. We’re going to continue to do even more to finish projects, expedite Everglades restoration, and improve water quality – all thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis.”
“Because of the partnerships represented today, we were able to complete this project early and are one step closer to moving water from our conservation areas to Everglades National Park and ultimately to Florida Bay,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “We are grateful to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his leadership in restoring the Everglades.”
“Today marks another milestone in the state’s efforts to accelerate restoration of the South Florida ecosystem and deliver long overdue benefits to Floridians throughout the region. The Tamiami Roadbed Removal Project will improve water quality, support sending more water south and reduce harmful estuary discharges,” said DEP Interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEP and the South Florida Water Management District remain committed to expediting key Everglades restoration projects.”
“Audubon is celebrating today the righting of an ecological wrong. The Tamiami Trail has long stood as an impediment to water flowing into Everglades National Park,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “With the completion of this project, connectivity and water flow are much improved, to support the imperiled habitats and species that need it most. We applaud the SFWMD and DOT for completing this project ahead of schedule and Governor DeSantis for making this important work such a priority.”
“Removing the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed is a critical step in helping us restore the flow of freshwater south into the Everglades and Florida Bay,” said Eric Eikenberg, President of The Everglades Foundation. “For a long time, Florida held a lot more ground-breakings than ribbon-cuttings. But, under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the South Florida Water Management District, we have been celebrating project completions that are making a real difference in our environment and our clean water economy.”
Old Tamiami Trail is a historic highway that was built across the Everglades to connect Tampa and Miami in the early 1900s. By removing the roadbed, the project helps restore the ecologically important sheet flow of water south through the Everglades. The roadbed removal is expected to increase the flow of clean freshwater into the Northeast Shark River Slough area of the park by more than 220 billion gallons per year.
The Tamiami Trail Projects, EAA Reservoir Project and other critical Everglades restoration projects were identified by Governor DeSantis in his Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment Executive Order to be expedited and completed as quickly as possible. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state began construction of the EAA Reservoir Project Stormwater Treatment Area 12 months ahead of schedule.