Posted on February 22, 2021
MIAMI – The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project to fortify the Miami-Dade County coast from sea level rise and storm surge.
The project is in dispute, particularly their idea of a large concrete flood wall. At stake are billions of dollars, but local leaders are continuing to work to find a balance.
“Elevating about 5800 structures and flooding proofing some 4600 non-residential commercial buildings,” explained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District Commander Col. Patrick Kinsman.
One sticking point has been a proposed flood wall running parallel to Miami’s waterfront, a looming concrete structure that some local city and business leaders have argued would sink property values.
At a recent Miami City Commission meeting, new renderings presented to the Army Corps of Engineers showcased an alternative vision; a hybrid approach with lower walls paired with nature-based solutions.
“That looks like a great presentation,” said Col. Kinsman “I don’t think the islands are going to stop the storm surge.”
City commissioners Manolo Reyes and Ken Russell pushed back, working to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers would place in writing that they are open to alternatives before the project moves forward to safeguard, they said, consideration of these concepts.
“That is now part of the initial plan and if it comes at or below the concrete wall it can be included without additional money locally,” Russell said at the meeting.
Moving to the next phase is in the hands of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava since the county is the project’s local sponsor.
“I’ve been paying attention to this Army Corps proposal since when I was a commissioner,” said Cava. “And as a commissioner, I wrote a letter with my concerns about the proposal – that it didn’t incorporate some of the natural solutions that are really critical… some natural barrier islands, some mangroves, other things that would really help a lot and be less intrusive, and we need to be sure that those things are in the plan. So I’ve met with the Army Corps and I told them that we need a waiver to extend the time until they put those things in the plan. We are not moving forward without those things being in the plan.”
Added Russell: “You know it is a unified position we have taken with county and private, not against the Army Corps but say you must come up with a better plan.”
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON RENDERINGS
“The hybrid concept brings together nature-based features with hardened structural elements to provide a system that can reduce storm surge risk. In the case of Back Bay, we include the natural elements of submerged oyster reefs that double as breakwaters. The waves then hit a series of revetments that also include natural elements of mangroves and other natural flora. This multiple line of defense system would be designed to be adaptive and accommodate sea level rise while continuing to reduce storm surge risk.” – Lynette Cardoch, the director of resilience and adaptation at Moffatt & Nichol
Swire Properties commissioned the renderings for the alternative plan.
“We are working closely with engineering firm, Moffatt & Nichol, to design an alternative plan to protect the community from future storm surges while preserving Miami’s coastline. Swire Properties has developed in Miami for over 40 years, and we consider ourselves to be a long-term partner for the city. We want to continue investing here and as strong leaders, we have to ensure that the plan is taking the city in the right direction and building something that we can all be proud of.” – Kieran Bowers, President of Swire Properties