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Raised Miami Roads Flood Again

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Raised Miami Roads Flood Again

By: Adam M. Matheny

Miami Beach Residents Pushing Back

Experts are again advising that roads in Miami Beach be raised to combat rising seas, and their recommendations are to raise them even higher than previously expected. And Miami Beach residents are just as unhappy about it this time around.

Consultants hired by the city informed residents that new calculations suggest that emergency road elevations will need to be higher than previously suggested, but that residential roads could potentially stay lower than anticipated. Despite that, the attending residents had an overwhelmingly negative response.

There’s a lot at stake. The rising seas aren’t insignificant—a two foot rise is anticipated by 2060, and of course, the coastal properties around Miami Beach would be a costly hit if flooded. Not preparing for climate change will also affect the city’s credit rating, something that must be avoided in order to finance repairs for future flooding.

Residents have been unhappy with the entire plan to fight sea level rise with rising roads, for a number of reasons. These reasons include water overflow onto their properties, extensive construction time, and issues with insurance.

Still, the expert consensus has been that the roads must rise, else Miami Beach might not survive climate change. Not only that, but it’s imperative to start now—the longer it’s put off, the more expensive it will be and the more obstacles they’ll have to overcome.

The seas, they say, are rising daily, which means that every single flood will endanger more roads.

Raising the roads, say proponents, will protect lives and property values. They point out that many different third party experts have confirmed the importance of the strategy, and that nearly all of these experts say there’s time to do it, as long as they move now with a sense of urgency.

Critics Voiced Their Concern

Critics don’t necessarily dismiss that the raised roads can address some climate change and flooding issues, but they also believe that the roads cause more immediate problems, like declining property values—and that perhaps some experts are overestimating how much the roads need to be raised.

Before, the recommendation was to raise all roads to higher levels at the same time. However, recently, the new strategy developed will focus on raising different types of roads to different elevations—a compromise that, it was hoped, would appease property owners. That’s why the new proposal suggests raising emergency roads higher but lowering the current expectation for residential roads.

It’s not much of a compromise, according to those against the plan.

And they point to problems with the raised roads in the past. For example, in Sunset Harbour, residents experienced flooding of homes and businesses that they believe was exacerbated by the raised roads. They also ran into issues with insurance—the National Flood Insurance Program itself denied some claims, due to the fact that the raised roads resulted in some previously first floor businesses being classified as basements. The judgement was eventually reversed but it left a bad taste in the mouths of business owners.

Despite the difficulties reported, the city says that the higher roads in Sunset Harbour have done much more good than harm, pointing to 60 tidal floods that could have had much more dangerous results

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