The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) provided a presentation to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners of the Tentatively Selected Plan of the Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Study at today’s BOCC meeting.

The USACE provided recommendations for proposed coastal measures to provide risk reduction from future coastal storms, also considering sea-level rise. USACE asked for the commissioner’s feedback on the Plan and direction for moving forward.

The presented plan includes floodproofing critical infrastructure (firehouses, hospitals, etc.) and commercial properties, shoreline stabilization at six areas of concern along U.S. 1 (mile markers 79.5, 70, 70.9, 67, 37, and 34.5), and acquisition or elevation of homes in vulnerable areas. Other structural measures, like seawalls, break walls, beach dunes, and storm surge barriers, were screened out because of the Florida Keys’ low-lying topography and the high cost of the features.

The Plan’s preliminary cost of $3.1 billion is to be split 65 percent federal and 35 percent non-federal. The Plan, if implemented, would provide approximately $215 million in annual benefits to the Florida Keys in reduced damages from coastal storms.

“We are already committed to doing these things to make Monroe County as resilient as possible against future storms and sea-level rise,” said Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator. “As the nonfederal partners, we have the flexibility to influence the plan and its potential implementation.”

The Commissioners asked USACE to coordinate with the County’s five municipalities regarding the Plan. The USACE will return to the May 20, 2020 Board meeting to discuss approval to continue moving forward. If approved, public informational meetings will be tentatively scheduled by USACE in June 2020. The Plan would also need congressional authorization to move into the construction phase.

“We appreciate the feedback from the Commissioners, and we will continue to work with Monroe County and the municipalities on the path forward for a more resilient Florida Keys,” said Susan Layton, USACE Chief of Planning for the Norfolk District.

D.A. Aldridge, a resident of Tavernier, thanked the commissioners and USACE for looking into future issues that will affect the Florida Keys and for their forward-thinking.

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