MIAMI (WSVN) – Rising sea levels are a big concern if you live anywhere near downtown Miami. The situation is so desperate, in fact, the city is considering building a wall — a tall wall. But some residents are calling for a better protection plan.
Four years ago, South Florida escaped a direct hit by Hurricane Irma, but the power of the Category 4 storm forced water from Biscayne Bay into Brickell streets.
“I certainly didn’t expect Brickell Avenue to be waist deep in water. You’re usually seeing traffic stacked up here, not Biscayne Bay,” said a resident at the time.
Fast forward to the start of a new hurricane season, and the fear of storm surge has been revived. A federal study into how to protect Miami is underway.
“We need this protection. There is $40 billion in assets at risk,” said Commissioner Ken Russell.
While there’s virtually no disagreement that neighborhoods like downtown Miami need protection from storm surge and flooding, there are different views on how to get there, and the fears from both the public and private sectors is that a barrier could cost millions in tourist revenue and in property values.
“Who wants to live on an enclosed wall?” said a resident.
“That’s completely unacceptable, and it’s never going to happen,” Russell said.
Russell’s district includes a majority of waterfront within city limits. He along with others are working to solve those design concerns.
“We are encouraging a green hybrid infrastructure solution, which would include burms and levees and mangroves,” Russell said.
Local leaders have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider a hybrid solution shown in the renderings.
“This would become an amenity for the entire waterfront of Miami, a place where we can view the water, not something that blocks the water,” Russell said.
And the private sector is spending their own money for an alternative as well.
“The idea is to enhance the coastline and as well as protect it,” said Kieran Bowers of Swire Properties.
Swire Properties presented this design to the county a few months ago, and they say it’s backed by experts in storm mitigation.
“A continuum of the boardwalk, bay walk, people can use the waterfront still as well as be safe in the knowledge when there is a hurricane or major tropical storm, their properties will be protected,” Bowers said.
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