indian creek improvement project moves forward

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

indian creek improvement project moves forward:

road and greenway construction to begin later this year

Residents near the City’s neighborhood improvement project on Indian Creek Drive between 25th and 41st Streets got a progress report this week. The project is part of Miami Beach’s initiative to deal with the impact of flooding from sea level rise and king tide events.
 
City engineer Bruce Mowry told the group replacement of the drainage structure and pipe at 26th Street and Collins has been completed and other drainage and seawall work is underway. The work on 26th Street included the installation of a pollution control device to filter the water pumped into Indian Creek.
 
Mowry says full roadway construction with a greenway will begin later this year. Plans include elevating the road on the west side about two feet, tapering back to about a one foot increase on the east side, allowing resiliency while interconnecting with existing driveways and doorways.
 
The proposed greenway includes a pathway to safely walk along the water, a living shoreline to provide a natural filter to improve the water quality in Indian Creek, and native vegetation. The City has received a $1 million grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District for the greenway and has applied for a second grant.
 
Completion of a continuous greenway depends on owners donating private seawalls to the City. A new program allows private property owners along Indian Creek between 25th and 41st to use quit claim deeds to transfer ownership to the City, which would then construct a new seawall and include the area in the greenway along the creek. Owners would retain the right to apply for future docks and have an easement right to cross public property to get to their docks.
 
Without donation of private seawalls, the City will have to “zig and zag” around the creek with its new seawalls (which will be installed in front of private walls in the public right of way). It would be up to private property owners to maintain their seawalls which, Mowry says, are at risk for deterioration due to flooding. He says property owners would be responsible for paying all fines due to crumbling seawalls polluting the creek if they are not maintained properly.
 
The design for what goes between the seawall and the water is still a work in progress. Concepts include ramps down to the water, park areas, and native vegetation. Rodney Knowles, Miami Beach’s Greenspace Division Director, said landscaping in the area will be highly manicured and resilient. Options include buttonwoods, sea grapes, coco plums, and Yaupon holly. “The palette is limited due to the harsh environment,” Knowles said. “In the face of climate change, we have to reconsider what beauty is.”
 
Concerns were raised about the earlier removal of the vegetation along parts of the creek and the maturity level of the new plants. Residents are worried about the loss of privacy if the newer plants are too small and immature. In addition, they said the mature plants have provided a noise buffer from the busy street. Some wondered if there was a reluctance to donate seawalls due to the vegetation removal and loss of the sound and privacy buffer. Mowry said the area between 25th and 41st Streets contains about 4,000 feet of seawall, one-third of which is owned by the City through public rights of way at street ends. So far, about “7 or 8 owners” have fully committed to donate their private seawalls giving the City ownership of about half of the total area. They continue to meet with property owners to explain the benefits of donating their walls.
 
A few residents expressed frustration that the higher seawalls block views and said they believed the bigger threat is the water that comes out of the storm drains into the streets and that higher seawalls won’t protect the City from hurricanes. Mowry says while no increase in seawalls or road elevation or number of pumps will protect the City from the storm surge of a major hurricane, the new infrastructure will help mitigate flooding from rising tides. As an example, he said the City used temporary walls and pumps during last year’s king tides and Indian Creek Drive, which has been notorious for flooding during those times, remained dry. Permanent infrastructure will provide the needed protection going forward.
 
Mowry emphasized that he and his team are available for group or one-on-one meetings to review the projects and the impact on individual property owners.
 
Important information regarding a temporary detour that will start on April 3:
Indian Creek Drive will be closed at 26th Street to perform drainage work.
Drivers will be directed to turn east on 27th, then south on Collins.
Between 26th and 27th Streets, there will be one lane in each direction on Collins.
The closure will last about four weeks. This is a 24-hour closure, not just during work hours.
 
While Indian Creek Drive is a state road, the City is taking the leadership on construction in partnership with FDOT. The cost of the project is $25 million.
 
For more information or to schedule a meeting with the City team, email Heather Leslie or call her at 305-905-5876.