By RHONDA HAAG,
Chief Resilience Officer
Monroe County has completed its Regional Roads Adaptation and Capital Plan study and determined that $1.6 billion, at a cost of $9.6 million/mile, will be needed to prepare the roads to mitigate projected Sea Level Rise (SLR) and other impacts for long-term resilience.
The goal of the $1.9 Billion plan conducted by HDR Engineering Inc. was to provide cost estimates, conceptual designs, and implementation plans and schedules. The plan details how the 300 miles of county-maintained roads need to be elevated or have drainage added as well as ‘when and how’ they need to be elevated or adapted.
Plan details available at Monroe County Roads Vulnerability Analysis (keysroadsplan.com).
The study projects that 53% (or 116 miles) of the 311 miles of county-maintained roads are to be affected by the effects of climate change, mostly due to a rise in sea level.
To mitigate the impacts, the County will need to adapt roads through elevation and the addition of significant storm water drainage features.
These roads service 76% of the current population. Also factored into the ranking of projects, in addition to current condition and human population, was existing critical infrastructure such as fire stations, etc.
When the extra high waters of the King Tides occur (September to November) those additional inches of water will be managed by pump stations and storm water conveyance features.
Features such as these helped reduce the original price tag by $200 million, from $1.8 billion to $1.6 billion. In addition, an annual cost of $3 million is required to operate and maintain the numerous pumps stations anticipated.
In total, 97 neighborhoods are recommended for road adaptation projects by the year 2045.
Half, or 49 of the neighborhood projects, are recommended for improvement by 2025 at a cost of $888 million.
The projects range in size from 207 linear feet to 3.63 Miles and range in cost from $75,000 to $64 Million.
Funding for implementation of the $1.6 billion plan is a hurdle for the county of 82,000 residents.
Staff applied for 15 road adaptation projects with a cost of $384 Million in September, 2022 under the State’s Resilient Florida grant program.
Officials are researching other options for raising funds.
The county recently completed a $1 billion wastewater program in the Keys and are hopeful, through hard work and coordination with residents, state, and federal-elected officials, the roads adaptation project will meet with similar success.
Next steps in the plan include a review of county policies to determine how private resilience efforts for housing and businesses will be allowed, such as potential elevation of yards and living shorelines.
Current county policies do not allow installation of seawalls on open shorelines, only in the canals.●