|Nearly 80 years ago, a dream was realized. That dream was to see a passage across the Everglades and it was completed by Captain James Franklin Jaudon. The construction of the Tampa to Miami Trail, or the Tamiami Trail, captured the imaginations of politicians and communities across the state. It took 13 years, $8 million and more than two and half million sticks of dynamite, but the road was finally built.
We know today that what was a tremendous achievement in 1928 is now a major impediment to a natural Everglades. Tamiami Trail crosses Shark River Slough, the most important conveyance of water into the Southern Everglades. Having this road in place has caused Everglades National Park to be strangled off from its main source of freshwater from the north. Further downstream, the health of Florida Bay was failing as were its fisheries on which many people depend. North of the Trail, water has backed up, and caused those lands to drown under too much water.
While the Tamiami Trail has and continues to cause damage to the fragile Everglades landscape, there is hope. The Everglades Skyway Coalition, a diverse group of community, business and environmental organizations and local governments, is advocating for a 6.5 mile elevated highway (5.5 miles of bridging plus a one mile now under construction) or “Skyway.” By elevating the road for 6.5 miles, much of barrier to natural water flow will be removed, and fish and other wildlife will be able to freely cross the landscape. In addition, the levees and other disturbed areas currently existing are areas that are most likely to be colonized by invasive exotic species, but if the Skyway is built, and the ecosystems are restored, native plants will have a greater chance of taking hold. Scientists say the Skyway is a vital project for Everglades Restoration.
Building a Skyway will help our communities as well. According to the Federal Government, the Skyway will generate hundreds of millions in increased business sales as well as thousands of new jobs in construction. The Skyway would also be a tourist attraction, and a symbol for South Florida and Everglades Restoration. Nearly two million tourists visit our South Florida National Parks each year, and the expansive views of a restored Everglades will surely bring in even more.
Below are the important recently released results of an extensive study on the economic benefits of Everglades restoration that was sponsored by the Everglades Foundation.
Measuring the Economic Benefits of America’s Everglades Restorationhttp://everglades.3cdn.net/8edd03d0943ae993fe_e0m6i4gx2.pdf
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Florida Governor Rick Scott