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Sierra Club Florida

The first mile is open! Water will soon flow.

   Give your time to help get the
   the Everglades Skyway built.


   April 2013: It was finally real. After two decades of advocacy bu the
   Sierra Club and others, the ribbon was cut on a one-mile bridge over
   Tamiami Trail. Cars will be sailing over the bridge this summer. The
   old road will be removed and parts of the River of Grass will flow free
   for the first time in 85 years. This is just the beginning. The next
   2.6 mile span, currently begin designed by the National Park Service, will
   be part of 6.5 miles of total bridging know as the Everglades Skyway,
   that will restore fresh water to Shark River Slough, the main artery of
   Everglades National Park.


   The picture of the bridge rendering (left) was now in concrete as officials,
   activists, and well-wishers gathered for the ribbon cutting on
   March 19, 2013.




The Sierra Club has been fighting for the health and restoration of the Everglades for more than 30 years. Today, threats of destruction continue to come from pushing urban development west, and from polluting or re-routing water that is needed by the Everglades and all its unique plants and wildlife.

Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are working in many areas to continue to protect and restore this wonderful ecosystem. One important area is the proposal to bridge over US41 (Tamiami Trail) to restore fresh water flows to the Everglades.

Scientists say this 11-mile section of the 1928 road must be elevated into a “skyway” if Everglades restoration is to succeed. The skyway will be an important first step in returning the historic water sheet flow through parched Everglades National Park and into Florida Bay.

We have gotten the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Dept of the Interior, the State of Florida, the South Florida Water Management district and the National Park Service to sign off on the bridge proposal, and last year, the President signed legislation authorizing the bridging.

We need to ensure that restoring the Everglades is a priority.
We need to find a way to fund the remaining 5.5 miles of the Everglades Skyway and keep up momentum for this historic project. Details on the project can be found at Build the Skyway.

Sign up today to volunteer and help us make progress for the Everglades!

By signing up to volunteer, you'll be joining an amazing grassroots effort to protect one of Florida's most important natural treasures. With your help, we will be able to get this project done. Just fill out the form Take Action Here.

We're looking for people to help in any capacity they can, from writing letters to the editor, and making phone calls, to tabling at public events, or in other ways. Your time can have a big impact.

Sign up today and Sierra Club staff will get you more info on how to help. And why not have your family or friends sign up with you? It is always more fun to volunteer with friends. Help restore the Everglades and build the Skyway bridge.

- Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club Everglades Office


2011


December 23, 2011 - President Obama signs legislation authorizing the bridging!

Please join the Sierra Club in celebrating a great milestone for Everglades Restoration. On December 23 the President signed the 2012 Appropriations Act, including authorization for the elevation of Tamiami Trail, to restore the flow of the River of Grass.

Thanks go to the many scientists, volunteers, government agency staff, elected officials and environmental leaders who participated in the campaign for the Skyway over the past decade. Your phone calls, letters, advocacy and activism led to this historic event.

The signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, (HR2055) to bridge 5.5 more miles of Tamiami Trail (US Highway 41) will help to restore fresh water flow through America's Everglades and into Florida Bay. The new bridges will join a one-mile bridge already under construction. The Everglades Skyway, the term coined for the 6.5 miles of bridging is now supported by Congress, the President and a strong coalition of Florida municipalities, and civic and business organizations. Besides restoring the water flow, the project will create jobs and increase tourism.

The thousands of activists and allies who have brought us to this day must be commended. Additional thanks go to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Congressional Rep Bill Young (R-Seminole), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz(D-Fort Lauderdale), and US Senator Bill Nelson.

Now that the project has Congressional authorization it must also receive funding from the Congress before construction can begin.Stay tuned for how you can help make this happen.

Nonetheless, this is an historic event. After 83 years, Congress has moved to restore water flow across Tamiami Trail.
-Jonathan Ullman,Everglades Senior Representative, and Frank Jackalone, Senior Organizing Manager, Sierra Club


February, 2011 - One more step: NPS Give the Go Ahead for Bridges.

It’s official! The National Park Service (NPS) on February, 14, Valentine's Day, gave the final go ahead on a plan to build 5 1/2 miles of bridges over Tamiami Trail to restore fresh water flow into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. The larger project expands on the one-mile bridge now under construction providing “more than five times the connectivity between marshes” and “unconstrained flow patterns.” Moreover, 10 of the historical sloughs that once flowed unobstructed would be reconnected.

Miami Businessman Frank Jaudon built his road across the Everglades in 1928, in large part to drain land and provide access for development. The Depression, the following year, scuttled his plans; however the road continues to cut off water flow to the great wetland. Sierra Club, which has long advocated for the bridging of Tamiami Trail, applauded the Park’s bridge plan and looked forward to starting construction.

The Record of Decision (ROD), signed by NPS’s Southeast Regional Director David Vela, means that Congress can now review the plan for authorization and funding. The ROD caps an approximately 18-month review process requested by Congress in 2009. The project is strongly backed by the Everglades Skyway Coalition whose members include municipalities, business and civic groups and environmental organizations. Bridge construction will generate more than 7,100 jobs.

Earlier this year, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his commitment to the 5.5 mile bridge plan saying: “It will be one of my highest priorities as Secretary, and I intend to work with the new Congress until it is done.”

View the full text of Secretary Salazar’s speech at: www.doi.gov

Read the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Final Environmental Impact Statement at: parkplanning.nps.gov

-- Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club Evergladess Office



May, 2010 - Good News on the Skyway

The National Park Service officially released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Tamiami Trail with a recommended alternative of 5.5 miles of bridging over US 41 (in addition to the one mile now being built by the Corps) to restore fresh water flows to the Everglades.

This is a huge development for the Everglades and one I personally have been working on for a decade. Building the Everglades Skyway has been a major campaign for the Sierra Club and supported by our Skyway Coalition partners to restore fresh water flow to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. We are very excited to share this news with all South Floridians and people from around the world that cherish the Everglades. There is still a lot of hard work left, but this is truly an historic day.
- Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club Everglades Office



Background - It has been a long road (bridge).



November, 2009 - Update on Everglades Skyway

The US Army Corps of Engineers, The US Dept of the Interior, The State of Florida, and The South Florida Water Management District, are inviting everyone to celebrate the beginning of the Tamiami Trail Project on December 4, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. This is the beginning of building a one-mile bridge. There is a lot of fanfare here, but everyone needs to know that we can't let them stop at one mile. This bridge, because of its length, location and restrictive canal operation rules imposed by Florida DOT, will not come close to restoring flows to Shark River Slough.

The real plan to bridge far more miles of the Trail, has yet to be decided, so while we want this to be the beginning, everyone needs to realize that it is mostly symbolic. We have to keep up the pressure for more.

Here is the Sierra Club Wish List for the Everlgades Skyway:

  • We want the Corps to build the 1 mile bridge first and add asphalt to parts of the remaining 10 miles last. We want to avoid having to place asphalt on parts of Tamiami Trail that are slated to bridged.
  • The cost of bridge building has fallen by half in the last few years. We want the money Interior saves on the 1 mile bridge to pay for more miles of bridging.
  • We want the National Park Service to speed up the General Management Plan process so that it is completed in 2010 about the time the Tamiami Trail bridging plan is finalized .
  • We want to increase the number of miles of bridging from the current 5 miles (plus 1 mile Corps bridge so that vast majority of the Slough is connected.
  • We want the National Park Service and Interior to agressively seek funds for more bridging from the Stimulus and other sources. Right now they are not.

November 2008 - Everglades Skyway

Tamiami Trail (US highway 41) cuts through Shark River Slough, one of the Everglades’ deepest and most important water passageways. Scientists say this 11-mile section of the 1928 road must be elevated into a “skyway” if Everglades restoration is to succeed. The skyway will be an important first step in returning the historic water sheet flow through parched Everglades National Park and into Florida Bay.

It will be beneficial to wildlife by reducing habitat fragmentation and preventing road kill. The project will create jobs and increase tourism while raising Everglades awareness at the same time. Best yet, an 11-mile skyway will serve as a visible symbol of Everglades restoration; a real benefit to the floundering project. The Sierra Club believes that Everglades restoration cannot happen without the full 11-mile skyway.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has tentatively selected a one-mile bridge in the eastern portion of the 11 mile area. This 1-mile plan is part of the 1989 federally-funded Modified Waters Delivery Project (Mod Waters), and not the $11 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) or any other state or federal transportation or environmental project. The Skyway Coalition has always said that if we were unable to secure the Skyway entirely in Mod Waters then the smaller project must be compatible with a full Skyway, and be built consecutively.

Sierra Concerns: 1. It’s generally acknowledged by all parties that the one-mile bridge alone will not provide enough water flow to restore Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. If the Skyway Coalition were to consider this as a first step to restore Shark River Slough and close out Mod Waters, we would need to see verifiable commitments from the state and federal officials that a project to build the remainder of the Skyway would break ground right after the one-mile bridge project is finished.

2.We are concerned that the 10 miles of asphalt, however thin, is a costly and long measure that might lend some permanency to the project. We wonder if this plan is designed to be the only bridge for 10-15 years or beyond. Tell us why that shouldn’t be a concern, and what are you doing to assure this doesn’t happen.

3.It behooves us to assure the public that finishing the Skyway starts immediately after the Mod Waters project because costs will only go up. We’ll look back at this 20-30 years from now and think that this was a bargain.

4.There doesn’t seem to be a plan to build the full Skyway after Mod Waters. We would like the Administration in its last months to work with Congress, the State of Florida and the Skyway Coalition, to craft a plan that blends a variety of state and federal and possibly private funds, possibly tapping existing and future tolling streams and financing options. We’d like that plan ready before Congresses’ July ‘08 deadline so that the public can see that the interim 1-mile plan isn’t the end of the road.

5.To show the agency’s commitment to restoring flow to the Everglades, would the Corps move up the Tamiami Trail decompartmentalization project of CERP, which could be a funding vehicle for much or all of the remaining Skyway bridging after Mod Waters?

6.The science chair of Miami-Dade County’s Global Warming Task Force and University of Miami Geology Chair, Dr. Harold Wanless, predicts a 3 to 5 foot sea level rise by 2100. He said that restoring natural historic flows may be pivotal to saving the Everglades. This week marks the 80th Anniversary of the completion of Tamiami Trail. In another 80 years, the road and much if not all the Everglades could be underwater if we don’t make the right choices now. We hope State and Federal officials agree on a post-Mod Waters bridging plan by July to address these predictions.

- Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club Everglades Office

To find out how you can get involved, go to Build the Skyway


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