Indian Creek Seawall Nears Resolution

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Indian Creek Seawall Nears Resolution:

Unpermitted work, noncompliant seawall will require some rebuilding

It appears a resolution is near on the Indian Creek seawall that was built without a permit and not in compliance with environmental regulations. At their meeting next week, Miami Beach Commissioners will be asked to refer a change order for more than $500,000 to the Finance Committee for removal and relocation of three sections of the seawall. The contractor, Shoreline Foundation, would contribute a similar amount.
The Indian Creek seawall project began in 2016 to protect the area from 25th to 41st Streets along Indian Creek Drive and a portion of Collins Avenue from flooding. In December of last year, a review indicated that several sections of the seawall were completed prior to receiving approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and were built too far into the water. Part of the fallout included City Engineer Bruce Mowry being placed on administrative leave. His consulting agreement was later terminated.
In August of this year, the City formally apologized and proposed removing and rebuilding three sections of the seawall from 37th to 38th Streets, from 30th to 31st Streets, and from 29th to 30th Streets. In a letter to the three regulatory agencies – the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Assistant City Manager Eric Carpenter described the seawalls in those areas as being “an excessive distance from the preexisting bulkhead.” In addition to the three sections being built further into the water than allowed, a lack of authorization from the USACE north of 27th Street was also identified. Regarding the remaining portions of the wall built without approval, Carpenter suggested leaving them in place would “cause the least environmental harm going forward.”

In a just released memo to Commissioners, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote there appears to be consensus among the agencies to accept the City’s recommendation to remove and relocate the three sections totaling 650 feet of seawall. There is still “one remaining matter” to be discussed with the Division of State Lands at a meeting on November 13th, one day before the City Commission meeting, according to Morales.
In an email to RE:MiamiBeach Carpenter provided further detail on that. “We are discussing the location and configuration of the prior seawalls so that they can better understand some of the constructability issues that led to the consensus with the regulatory agencies.” In his August letter to the regulatory agencies, Carpenter described impediments such as “documented construction barriers” including subsurface conditions and other “structural interference” that resulted in the wall being built where it is in the areas outside of the three sections in question.

In an earlier communication with the City Commission, Morales said those impediments 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.” 

In that letter 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.”
When the issues were discovered, the City issued a stop work order to contractor Shoreline Foundation and placed Mowry on leave. According to Morales’ memo prepared for next week’s Commission meeting, the total cost of removing and relocating the three noncompliant sections of seawall is approximately $1 million “for which the City and Shoreline have discussed and are recommending a resolution which sets the City’s maximum contributing amount at $529,570.”
“As part of this change order, the Contractor is requesting a payment for work performed that has been unpaid for nearly a year and the continuation of their contract to perform the additional seawall work needed along Indian Creek Drive between 25th and 41st Streets,” Morales wrote.
“There is still a total of 2,100 linear feet of seawall that will need to be installed by the contractor for an estimated cost of $3.3 Million. Approximately $2.5 Million of these required funds have already been budgeted,” according to Morales.
As part of the change order to be referred to the Finance Committee, the Administration is recommending the City’s maximum contribution of $529,579 to address the noncompliant seawall as well as allocation of the remaining budgeted funds for the project.
According to City Communications Director Tonya Daniels the remaining $800,000 for completion of the seawall “would need to be identified but we are confident that we would be able to identify a funding source. In addition, we believe that the state would be reimbursing a portion of this but the final amount is TBD.”
Regarding the road portion of the project, last month, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) agreed to provide additional funding in the amount of $6 million allowing the City to begin final construction on the roadway. As part of the agreement, Miami Beach will kick in another $1.5 million. The road project, also on Indian Creek between 25th and 41st Streets, was originally projected to cost $25.5 million – $20 million from FDOT and $5.5 million from the City. The cost is now estimated to be $33 million – $26 million from FDOT and $7 million from the City. Bids for the project will be opened in the middle of this month and construction is expected to resume on the project “shortly thereafter” according to Carpenter. 
UPDATE, January 5, 2019: A resolution to share the costs with the contractor was approved by the City Commission at its last meeting. The total cost of removing and relocating the noncompliant sections of seawall is approximately $1 million with the City’s maximum contribution set at $529,570. Asked about next steps and timing, Assistant City Manager Eric Carpenter said, “We plan to have permit applications in to the regulatory agencies later this month.”

Corrected November 10 to reflect Bruce Mowry's consulting agreement with the City was terminated.


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