Seawall Snafu Latest Hit to A1A Flood-Mitigation Project
A $30-million Miami Beach flood-mitigation project along state Road A1A is facing further delays due to permitting issues with its roughly 1-mile-long seawall. As a result, contractors may need to rebuild portions built too close to the water, says Eric Carpenter, Miami Beach’s public-works director
The city is leading the Indian Creek A1A flood-mitigation project, the result of an agreement with the Florida Dept. of Transportation, the project owner. The September 2016 agreement calls for the city to pay approximately $5.4 million of the flood-mitigation project’s previous $25.4-million price tag while advancing $20 million to FDOT.
Originally scheduled for completion in late 2017, the city now is targeting late 2019, Carpenter says. Earlier, new scope and subsequent re-phasing added roughly a year to the project’s schedule.
The latest problem resulted partly from the city not obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, though it had obtained permits from Miami-Dade County Environmental Resources Management and the state.
Corps spokeswoman Nakeir Nobles told ENR the agency is in the early stages of reviewing the case. Nobles added, “A cease-and-desist letter was issued to the city last week. … At this time, we have no tentative date of resolution.”
Bruce Mowry, the former Miami Beach city engineer who initially led the project, told ENR that USACE had not indicated any issue with the project’s plans since receiving the permit application in September 2016. Mowry stepped down from his position earlier this month, after the election of Mayor Dan Gelber.
The problem was “exacerbated” by a lengthening of the seawall, which resulted from unexpected success in acquiring control over adjoining properties, says Carpenter. The wall’s length tripled over the course of construction, he says.
The problem stems from the fact that “there are certain exemptions for a discontinuous wall that you don’t have [with] a continuous wall,” he says. The city’s switch from a strategy of signing quitclaim deeds with property owners to gaining perpetual access easements, which were easier to obtain, enabled the seawall’s extension. Sections not built with a permanent seawall would have featured an impermanent barrier wall. By extending the seawall, the city hoped to avoid “this gap-toothed-smile finished product,” Carpenter says.
A Dec. 18 tour of the project by the three regulatory agencies identified three sections that need addressing, says Carpenter. “I am cautiously optimistic that the majority of the wall can remain in its existing location,” he says. He expects a decision to be reached on a solution within three months.