Today, Senator Rick Scott visited Everglades Safari Park to highlight the U.S. Department of Transportation's $60 million investment to raise the unbridged sections of the Tamiami Trail. This announcement follows the letter Senator Scott sent in March to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao urging funding for the project, which is critical to the health of Florida's Everglades.
Senator Rick Scott said, "I'm honored to be in the Everglades today to celebrate the beginning of Phase II of the Tamiami Trail project, which is vital to increasing freshwater flows to the Everglades. As Governor, I fought to fund the Tamiami Trail Modification Next Step Phase I, and I thank President Trump and DOT Secretary Elaine Chao for building on our efforts by awarding the $60 million I requested for this vital project. I also want to thank Senator Rubio and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, who put a lot of work into this project. I look forward to continuing this strong federal-state partnership to finish the Tamiami Trail and continue our mission of preserving Florida's historic Everglades National Park."
Senator Marco Rubio said, "Fighting to expedite Everglades restoration remains one of my top priorities. I am proud to have fought alongside Senator Scott to secure this critical funding to raise the Tamiami Trail. Everglades restoration is absolutely necessary to ensure the environmental sustainability and economic vitality of one of the most dynamic regions of our nation, and I will continue to work collaboratively across federal, state, and local governments to address any roadblocks slowing down our progress. I commend President Trump and Secretary Chao for their continued commitment to Florida's environment."
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, "The Everglades are a national treasure and this project will go a long way in restoring the health of the ecosystem while advancing public safety and providing economic benefits to Floridians."
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart said, "As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair/co-founder of the House Everglades caucus, I have continuously worked to ensure that Everglades Restoration remains a top priority in Congress. As then Chairman of the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I included $300 million for the National Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects (NSFLTP) program in the Fiscal Year 2018 bill. With this $60 million federal grant, the project can complete its second phase, leading to an additional 6.5 miles of elevated bridging. I look forward to this project's completion and remain a steadfast advocate for the preservation and continued restoration of the Everglades."
Shannon Estenoz, Everglades Foundation Chief Operating Officer, said, "Today, we celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in Everglades restoration - the last chapter in the effort to remove Tamiami Trail as a bottleneck to flowing freshwater into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. This was truly a team effort, and we thank Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, the entire Florida Congressional Delegation, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for identifying the funding needed to complete this critically important restoration project."
Celeste De Palma, Audubon Florida Director of Everglades Policy, said, "Audubon is celebrating the historic appropriation of state and federal funding to finally complete the Tamiami Trail Next Steps restoration project. This kind of collaboration across agencies and levels of government is key to solving Florida's water problems once and for all. Tamiami Trail restoration, in conjunction with the EAA Reservoir, will allow us to send even more water south. Help for Florida Bay is coming."
Cara Capp, National Parks Conservation Association Everglades Restoration Program Manager, said, "National Parks Conservation Association is proud to celebrate the future of Everglades National Park alongside Senator Rick Scott and commends the steadfast dedication and leadership that led to full funding of the final Tamiami Trail project. Elevating Tamiami Trail is key to efforts to send clean water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay, where it is desperately needed for restoration. This significant investment by federal and state leaders shows the impact of decades of work by park advocates to speak up for the health of America's Everglades. From its conception a century ago, National Parks Conservation Association has sought to protect the iconic River of Grass. We look forward to working with Senator Scott and others to ensure the long-term health of America's Everglades and the water supply for eight million Floridians."