On Monday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called on U.S. Interior Sec. David Bernhardt to support the expedited completion of the Tamiami Trail Next Steps project.
Rubio wrote Bernhardt asking for his assistance in ensuring that National Park Service design work related to the project is prioritized for completion prior to February 28, 2020, as prescribed in report language secured by Rubio in the FY20 Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. This would greatly improve the likelihood that the project, which Rubio’s office insists is “a critical step in Everglades restoration,” is constructed on time and on budget.
Earlier this year, Rubio urged President Donald Trump to double the annual federal funding allocated to this critical Florida priority. Last month, Rubio secured the full $200 million for Everglades restoration in President Trump’s updated budget request in the FY2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
Rubio’s letter is below:
Dear Secretary Bernhardt:
For the last two years, I have worked to support the expedited completion of the Tamiami Trail Next Steps project. This project, which includes approximately 3.3 miles of already constructed bridging, is critical to the implementation of the Central Everglades Planning Project, increasing water deliveries to Everglades National Park, and reducing flooding in the Water Conservation Areas. Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation jointly awarded the National Park Service (NPS), and the Florida Department of Transportation, a Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program grant that, along with substantial matching support from the State of Florida, fully funds the final phase of the project to raise the remaining unbridged sections of the roadway. I write to respectfully request your assistance to ensure that NPS design work associated with expending these grant funds is completed as quickly as possible.
In particular, I would like to bring your attention to language included in the recently approved Senate Report accompanying the FY20 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. On page nine, under the heading “Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan”, the report states: “Additionally, the Committee expects the National Park Service to complete and transmit the complete design package for the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Final Phase to the Florida Department of Transportation no later than February 28, 2020.”
The proposed 2022 completion of the Tamiami Trail Next Steps project will significantly advance improvements in the condition of Everglades National Park’s natural resources, and provide new flexibility for water managers to mitigate significant flooding impacts across South Florida. Your assistance in ensuring that NPS design work related to this project is prioritized for completion prior to February 28, 2020 would greatly improve the likelihood that the project is constructed on time and on budget.
Thank you for your consistent support for Everglades restoration and for your consideration of this request. I look forward to our continued work together on these critical projects for Everglades National Park and Florida.