On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote U.S. Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao, calling on her to grant funding through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program to complete Phase II of the Tamiami Trail Modification Next Step project. Scott insisted this is a “critical project, which will significantly increase the flow of water and provide vital health to the Everglades National Park.” Scott’s letter is below:
Dear Secretary Chao:
People from across the world come to Florida because of the state’s natural beauty. Over my eight years as governor, I championed record funding for the Everglades, Florida’s springs, beaches and state parks. That included more than $2 billion to restore the Everglades and South Florida’s ecosystem.
We worked hard to make sure Florida’s natural resources are preserved so the state can remain a top destination for families, visitors and businesses. While I was governor, the state invested nearly $1 billion more than the federal government to implement the 50/50 cost share in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The restoration of the Everglades is a huge undertaking that requires both federal and state participation.
In late 2013, I recommended that the state fund $90 million towards the Tamiami Trail Modifications Next Step Phase I, in partnership with the National Park Service’s $90 million commitment. This project is vital to increase freshwater flows to Everglades National Park and ultimately the Florida Bay, which will help protect our waterways, restore the ecosystem, and improve wildlife. In 2015, the Florida Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, and the Federal Highway Administration signed a Memorandum of Agreement to begin Phase I of the project, which will be completed in May, 2019.
With the completion of the Tamiami Trail Modification Next Step Phase I, it is time to begin Phase II to raise the remaining 6.5 miles of the Tamiami Trail, which will continue to aid in the natural flow of fresh water to the historic Everglades National Park. I am committed to continuing this strong federal-state partnership to finish the Tamiami Trail, and Governor DeSantis is building on our work by recommending $40 million through the Florida Department of Transportation’s work program in his 2019-2020 recommended budget. The National Park Service has applied for a Federal Department of Transportation grant through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program to supplement the remaining $60 million to successfully complete this critical project.
I strongly support the Federal Department of Transportation granting the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program, subject to all applicable laws and regulations, to provide construction funding to the Tamiami Trail Modification Next Step Phase II project, which will significantly increase the flow of water and provide vital health to the Everglades National Park. I have always believed that federal funds should only be allocated to state projects where the state puts up their fair share and there is a strong return on investment. Florida has repeatedly proven to be that strong partner, like when we committed $100 million in state funds to help expedite the repairs on the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is on schedule to be completed in 2022.
Thank you for considering Florida for this important grant. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for any questions or for more information. I look forward to working together to preserve and protect Florida’s natural treasures for generations to come.