Skip to main content Help Control Panel

Lost? Search this Naples Florida website...|Add our search|Login   A+   A-

Local «   Florida «  

Miccosukee tribe stops Tamiami Trail bridge project.

Register with us in one easy step!

Everglades Restoration Project Halted.

Ruling puts brakes on Tamiami Trail bridge project The Miccosukee Tribe won its bid for an injunction to stop the building of the one-mile Tamiami Trail bridge -- part of the Everglades restoration project. BY CURTIS MORGAN

A Miami federal judge has halted the latest federal plan to overhaul the Tamiami Trail, a long-delayed project crucial to Everglades restoration.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro granted a preliminary injunction sought by the Miccosukee Tribe to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from beginning construction of a one-mile bridge on the historic road, which for 80 years has blocked the natural flow of the River of Grass.

The judge, whose order was posted Friday, found the Corps did not carry out analysis of alternatives required under environmental laws.

She also sided with tribal arguments that building the bridge would not actually improve flows until other projects are built. Those projects are intended to control flooding threats to western Miami-Dade County suburbs posed by higher water levels in the Everglades.

Without the other projects, Ungaro wrote, 'the Tamiami Trail component is no more than construction of an `environmental bridge to nowhere' that accomplishes [and harms] nothing, but which would be a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.''

Tribe attorney Dexter Lehtinen called the bridge a politically driven project intended to show a skeptical Congress that progress is being made in the Everglades. In January, two White House aides vowed to environmentalists that work would start by year's end.

''In response to criticism, they just want to pour concrete,'' he said, ``because you can go out and photograph a concrete structure.''

Nanciann Regalado, a spokeswoman for the Corps, said the agency is ''complying with the judge's order.'' The Corps had planned to issue bids for contractors this month.

David Anderson, executive director of Audubon of Florida, called the ruling ''a terrible injustice for the Everglades and for the people of Florida.'' He said environmentalists would fight it.

The $225 million bridge, a fraction of the cost of an 11-mile skyway that environmentalists championed, would increase water flow by 90 percent -- enough to exceed an interim target Congress requested last year -- and improve conditions for native plants and wildlife. But it would still be about half what the project was ultimately supposed to deliver.

Improving water flow under the historic road is a critical project in the strategy for Everglades restoration. It's a key component of the Modified Water Deliveries project approved by Congress in 1989 to restore flow to Shark River Slough, the primary headwaters of Everglades National Park.

In September, the National Research Council called the project ''one of the most discouraging stories in Everglades restoration,'' noting it had been plagued by lawsuits, cost overruns, numerous changes in plans and scope and ``lack of coordinated leadership from responsible agencies.''

The Miccosukee, who have complained for years that high waters north of the trail are swamping tribal lands and tree islands, argue the bridge is unnecessary and would delay restoration. The tribe believes there is a faster, cheaper option to improve flow with a $17 million plan to clean out existing culverts.
444 1 rate


Miccosukee tribe stops Tamiami Trail bridge project. Everglades Restoration Project Halted.