JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, awarded four construction contracts for ecosystem restoration in south Florida in the past week, valued at more than $81 million. The construction projects include the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) South, and Picayune Strand Restoration Projects, which are components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
The Corps awarded the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands L-31 E Flow-way Contract 5A on Sept. 25, for $8,170,821.93 to Harry Pepper & Associates, Inc., of Jacksonville. This Phase 1 Project contract calls for the construction of the S-705 Pump Station and a drainage culvert. Work on this project is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.
The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Contract 5A covers the construction of Pump Station S-705. The S-705 pump station will have a capacity of 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) and is located on the L-31E Canal at the intersection with the C-102 Canal.
The S-705 will pump water into an L-31E Canal segment, south of C-102 and north of Military Canal. The water in this segment will flow through culverts into wetlands east of the L-31E Levee. S-705 will also feature a 72-inch culvert with a slide gate to pass flows for internal drainage.
“The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project is designed to improve the ecology of Biscayne Bay, including the freshwater wetlands, tidal creeks and near shore habitat,” said Project Manager Marie Huber. “The Corps and our partners at the South Florida Water Management District have been designing and constructing Phase 1 project features over the past several years, and we just kicked off the public Scoping phase of the Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Restoration Project, also known as ‘BBSEER.’”
The Corps awarded the CEPP South Contract 1 on Sept. 25, for $40,502,895 to Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. from Omaha, Nebraska. The contract calls for the construction of culverts and a gap in the L-67A levee and backfilling an agricultural ditch just north of Tamiami Trail. Work on this project is expected to be complete by end of 2024.
“CEPP is the ‘heart’ of Everglades restoration. It focuses on the restoration of more natural flows into and through the central and southern Everglades by increasing storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee; removing canals and levees within the central Everglades and retaining water within Everglades National Park,” said Project Manager Kyle Keer. “This CEPP South construction contract represents the culmination of years of interagency planning and coordination with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District, stakeholders and members of the public in an effort to ‘get the water right’ - improving the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water.”
The CEPP South contract 1 includes the following features:
• Installation of three gated culverts in the L-67A levee (S-631, S-632, and S-633 ); each with discharge capacity of 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to convey water from Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3A through the L-67A levee into WCA 3B
• Removal of spoil piles located on the western bank of the L-67A levee, upstream of S-631 and S-632, to enhance sheet flow into WCA-3B
• Excavation of a 3,000-foot gap in the L-67C levee to allow water to flow freely through the L-67C canal into WCA 3B, and
• Backfilling a portion of the existing east-west agricultural ditch to facilitate the movement of sheet flow through WCA-3A south and into Everglades National Park
“The contractor is expected to mobilize at the CEPP South Contract 1 project site in November,” said Keer. “We hope to maintain the momentum on this keystone project throughout the next several fiscal years given congressional appropriations can be maintained to support the effort. We currently have an ambitious schedule to award new construction contracts annually - Contract 2 in 2022, Contract 3b in 2023, Contract 5 in 2024, and Contract 6 in 2025.”
The Corps awarded the Picayune Strand Restoration Project Southwest Protection Feature Levee Contract on September 25, 2020 for $ 24,356,076 to Quality Enterprises USA, Inc. from Naples, Florida. The project consists of constructing 7 miles of levee and associated conveyance canal, installing a triple barrel culvert in the existing Lipman canal and another in the conveyance canal, installing a double barrel culvert through the levee, constructing an access road to the levee, and resurfacing an existing road to be used for access. Work on this project is expected to be complete by end of 2024.
“The Protection Feature Levee is approximately 7 miles long and will be constructed on the west boundary of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project site between Lipman Farms and the Picayune Strand,” said Steve Baisden, Project Manager. The levee is necessary to protect the agricultural business, which will then enable us to plug the Miller and Faka Union Canals. Once the canals are plugged, the three pump stations can begin operating to provide restoration benefits.”
The Corps awarded the Design-Build Construction of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project Conveyance Features Contract on Sept. 28, for $8,089,000 to Douglas N. Higgins Inc. from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The intent of this project is to provide hydraulic connectivity through the addition of new culverts under or adjacent to U.S. Route 41 and County Road 92 (San Marco Drive) in Collier County.
The contract calls for the construction of three box culverts under U.S. 41, approximately 1,000-feet southeast of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Tomato Road. The three culvert locations will create new hydraulic openings for conveyance from the Tamiami Canal to the south side of U.S.41.
In addition, three 36-inch pipe culverts will be installed adjacent to three existing residential culverts, which run parallel to Tamiami Trail in Collier Seminole State Park.
One new double barrel concrete box culvert will be installed under County Road 92 (San Marco Drive), approximately 2,400-feet west of the intersection of County Road 92 at U.S. 41. The new culvert will create a hydraulic opening for conveyance between the north and south sides of County Road 92.
“The new culverts will serve as Conveyance Features under U.S. 41 and County Road 92, and are necessary to distribute the restoration flows past the respective highways,” said Steve Baisden, Project Manager. “With additional flows during the wet season, the culverts are necessary to prevent damage to the roadways.”
“These two contracts are key to completing the Picayune Strand Restoration Project They will help protect the properties to the west and the roadways to the south, when the area is rehydrated and more natural flows are restored,” said Baisden. “This sets the stage for the final steps of the project—plugging the Faka Union Canal, the large main canal through the area, and the Miller Canal on the west side of the project. Once these canals are plugged, the three pump stations can be operated for restoration flows, the Picayune Strand will be rehydrated, all of the benefits we’ve been working toward will be realized.”
The Picayune Strand Restoration Project will restore wetlands in Picayune Strand and in the adjacent public lands that surround the project area. Other benefits include improving flows to the Ten Thousand Islands area, improving water quality, and increased groundwater recharge. It includes three pump stations, spreader canals, 40 miles of canal plugs, and the removal of 227 miles of roads, to help restore more natural flows of fresh water, including those to the coastal area.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan outlines the projects for returning the lifeblood of the Everglades – water – to its historic quantity, quality, timing and distribution The overarching objective of the Plan is the restoration, preservation, and protection of the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.
For more information on the Ecosystem Restoration, visit the Jacksonville District website at www.saj.usace.army.mil/EcosystemRestoration, www.saj.usace.army.mil/CEPPSouth, www.saj.usace.army.mil/BBCW and www.saj.usace.army.mil/PicayuneStrand.