Miami is hard at work trying to storm-proof its coastline. Under a proposed plan currently being developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, storm surge gates would be installed on three major waterways emptying into Biscayne Bay off the Miami coast. The plan calls for a $4.6 billion storm surge protection system to keep the 2.8 million people living in Miami-Dade County safe.
The strength of hurricanes have increased due to climate change, along with the threat of storm surges. Miami was noted as one of the world’s most vulnerable cities according to a report from Resources for the Future, with sea levels expected to rise 3.5 feet over the next 60 years.
The Miami River, a major commercial thoroughfare, would be among the waterways protected by the gates. Additionally, the plan would install pumps and floodwalls along the city’s waterfront, ranging in height from one to 13 feet. Downtown, a 36-foot-high wall could rise from the floor of Biscayne Bay to protect the city center.
Pushback may come from local residents and workers concerned about losing their ocean views, as well as from conservation groups preferring natural solutions such as increased reef health and biodiverse shorelines. “This project is really reflective of an agency that has a hammer and sees everything as a nail,” Rachel Silverstein, of Miami Waterkeepers, said to NPR. “We know there is really valuable protection from storm surge given by natural infrastructure like coral reefs, mangroves, dunes and things like that.”
The formal plan won’t be completed until 2021. It then must gain approval and funding from national and local government officials.