City Proposes Removing Three Sections of Indian Creek Seawall

Resiliency

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

City Proposes Removing Three Sections of Indian Creek Seawall:

Regulatory agencies to decide if that is acceptable resolution to noncompliant work

As a resolution to the unpermitted and environmentally noncompliant work on the Indian Creek seawall that was discovered at the end of last year, the City of Miami Beach has proposed to the regulatory agencies involved limiting the tearing out and rebuilding of the seawall to three sections. In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, and Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), Assistant City Manager Eric Carpenter wrote, “The City intends to remove and replace the seawall installed” between 37th and 38th Streets, between 30th and 31st Streets, and between 29th and 30th Streets.
 
In the letter, Carpenter starts with an apology. “As an initial matter, the City of Miami Beach apologizes for the errors made during construction of this project. The City is chagrined at how several sections of the Indian Creek Sewall were installed. The City, like your agencies, is a governmental body. In this capacity, we are responsible for always acting in the public interest and following legal requirements.” In this case, the work had not received all of the approvals and permits necessary and some areas of the new wall were built further away than allowed from the existing bulkhead.
 
“The seawall replacement project is critical for the City because it reconstructs an important piece of aging infrastructure needed to deal with rising sea levels, including King Tides, and is located adjacent to a hurricane evacuation route,” Carpenter wrote. “But the seawall should have been properly installed. When the errors became known, the City stopped work on the project, and the City employee who was responsible for overseeing the work of the contractor is no longer with the City. The construction errors have already cost the city substantial funds, undercut our ability to serve our residents, and have delayed the completion of a project needed to minimize street flooding. We will fully cooperate with the regulatory agencies in completing this important public works project.”
 
While proposing to replace the three sections, which Carpenter wrote “are an excessive distance from the preexisting bulkhead,” he said the City proposes to leave the remaining portions in place. “Now that the seawall is there, the best approach is to decide what action will cause the least environmental harm going forward. In our judgment, the portions of the seawall that merit removal” are the three detailed above.
 
In a separate Letter to Commission detailing the updates, City Manager Jimmy Morales said City Staff met with the three agencies on August 3rd to review the proposal. 
 
Morales said there were some “impediments” in the area “which presented challenges for the new construction” of the seawall. He noted those were “shared with the agencies in an effort to clearly define what sections of the wall need to be removed and what sections it makes sense to leave in place, since removal and replacement of the wall could result in the replacement segment in the same location due to the impediments.” Carpenter described those impediments as “documented construction barriers” including subsurface conditions and other “structural interference”.
 
Morales echoed Carpenter’s concern about potential environmental damage. “It is also worth noting that removing a section of the wall causes turbidity and disrupts the channel floor which can be environmentally degrading. At the end of the day, the negotiated course of action needs to be both fiscally and environmentally reasonable. As a result, some conversation centered around leaving the wall in place and providing another method of mitigation.”
 
“A pending site visit with the regulatory agencies will refine the three locations and the limits of the sections of the seawall to be removed and replaced,” Morales wrote.
 
He emphasized, “[T]he seawall is not currently impacting the schedule of the roadway work as that work is getting ready to move into the second phase of construction.”
 
The full letter explaining the City’s position is here.

 
 

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