News Press

Editorial: Glades bridge helps SW Fla.

December 8, 2009


Everglades restoration has gotten a long overdue shot in the arm from the federal government.

We hope the feds will now start doing their part in this epic program, which has great meaning for Southwest Florida.

A bridge that will elevate a one-mile stretch of the Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County got a ceremonial kickoff Friday.

The $81 million bridge will restore part of the natural southerly flow of the River of Grass, critical to restoring the health of Everglades National Park.

Re-establishing the natural southerly movement of Everglades system water is critical to the Southwest Florida environment.

The dumping of excess water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River, instead of letting it flow south, has put agricultural pollutants into our river and estuary, causing devastating algae blooms.

Everglades restoration includes plans for using thousands of acres of farmland south of the lake to store and cleanse that water before releasing it south, where nature meant it to go.

That should provide clean, plentiful water for the park, for the once-great fishery in Florida Bay at the tip of the peninsula and for the imperiled coral reef of the Florida Keys.

And it should also reduce or eliminate the need to use the Caloosahatchee as a sewer.

Everglades restoration has many important parts. The bridge in the Tamiami Trail is one of them.

But unless the federal government resumes and sustains its commitment to restoration, a great opportunity will be lost.