First Street Flood Mitigation Project Enters Design Phase

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

First Street Flood Mitigation Project Enters Design Phase:

Completion of project still four to five years away

After a breakthrough this spring over placement of a new stormwater treatment system to replace aging infrastructure and mitigate flooding from sea level rise in Miami Beach’s First Street area, the design phase of the project is about to begin. Completion of the project is still four to five years away, however.

Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak informed City Commissioners via letter this week that negotiations have completed with contractor Jacobs Engineering and she expects to issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP) in early November to kick off the design phase which is expected to take 24 months. The project includes a new stormwater pump station, stormwater treatment system, stormwater gravity collection system, and stormwater outfall force main along with replacement of an existing water main, gravity sanitary sewer, and above-ground neighborhood improvements to streetscape and urban canopy. 

Hudak noted the design fee of $5.98M represents a cost savings of $1.6M from budget “without reducing scope elements.” The City has allocated a total of $46.9M for design and construction.

“This project is one of the first capital projects to be implemented after the City of Miami Beach Urban Land Institute ‘Red Team Review,’ and the creation of the READY Team,” Hudak wrote. “The Red Team was comprised of several Urban Land Institute professionals, who carried out an evaluation of the City’s flood mitigation program.” 

One of the follow ups to the Urban Land Institute (ULI) review was creation of a READY Team of key executive staff from departments with responsibilities related to the City’s resiliency and neighborhood improvement projects. Another recommendation was combining blue-green infrastructure with “pumping systems and elevated streets, to both introduce more flexibility in managing water and offer more visible collateral benefits to the local community.” Blue-green infrastructure incorporates natural processes in the management and treatment of water, slowing it down and integrating/treating it through the natural environment.

“This will be the first project to incorporate, from conception, the Commission-approved City of Miami Beach Blue-Green Stormwater Infrastructure (BSI) Concept Plan and Urban Forestry Master Plan, with the expectation that as the City adapts to climate change to resolve flooding issues, it will seek to scale-up the implementation of blue-green practices across the City,” Hudak wrote with regard to the First Street project.

The project scope also includes elevating First Street from Alton Road to Washington Avenue.

The location of the stormwater treatment system (SWTS), the sticking point for community members, was determined this spring after four years of dialogue. The SWTS and its electrical components will be sited in the parking lot at the southwest corner of the intersection at First Street and Washington Avenue.

“Since the start of the project, the City continuously involved the community at every step of the process,” Hudak said. “A testament to the extraordinary level of community engagement, are the 40 stakeholder outreach meetings held during this past 4-year period. The stakeholder feedback led to multiple design variations, including the evaluation of different locations for the proposed stormwater treatment system (SWTS) and outfall.”

Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said groundbreaking for a project like this “usually occurs 4 to 6 months after design is complete.”

She said construction will take two to three years to complete though, she noted, “This is a rough estimate since we don’t have the design completed, but it’s based on the scope of work.”

Photo courtesy City of Miami Beach

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