Sunday, November 28, 2021

Dying Mangroves to Have Water Flows Restored

Photos by Steve Stefanides


For almost as many years as the City of Marco Island has been incorporated as a stand-alone community in Collier County, issues concerning the dying off mangroves along San Marco Road (SR-92) have been discussed among various groups and interested parties. This was well before many of the present-day sitting councilors were even living fulltime here on Marco Island.

Approximately 15 years ago, a large billboard calling for support of the dying mangroves along that section of roadway leading to the Stan Gober Memorial Bridge was erected. As reported in this newspaper in February 2016, Rookery Bay discussed working with an international group from China, which had toured the area to consider co-funding a project that would alleviate the lack of tidal flow caused by blockage of aging culverts under the road.

At the May 3 meeting of the Marco Island City Council, City Public Works Director Tim Pinter brought councilors up to date on almost two years of discussions with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to possibly resolve those long simmering issues.

FWC has received a $2.3 million grant to address the lack of adequate water flow under the highway, which was originally constructed by the State of Florida in 1956. Much speculation regarding the actual causes of the restrictions have been bantered about over the years leading up to Pinter’s report.



FWC has contracted with an engineering firm to create a set of bid documents that would allow the city to go out to bid for the project and provide engineering and oversight expertise for the project in its entirety. The city, in turn, would be paid for those services.

The project would entail replacing the one partially-functioning 60-inch culvert presently under the roadway with four 60-inch culverts, two each in two separate locations, to enhance the tidal flows in dual directions from the south and north sides of the roadway.

According to Pinter, when Florida DOT reconstructed the roadway, there were three other 48-inch culverts that never were connected, therefore limiting the flow of water and contributing to the die-off of the mangroves.

These new 60-inch culverts will be provided with manatee gates to prevent debris from flowing through or blocking the flow of water. The city, which is responsible for the maintenance of San Marco Road, would include, in their normal maintenance routine, the clearing of debris from the gates to ensure the passage of water is not inhibited.

This project will coincide with the extension of the already approved shared use pathway from the Marco Island Academy area to the existing Goodland Road pathway.

Council voted 7-0 to approve moving ahead.


Culvert Project.

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