Everglades National Park Road-Base Monitoring

Everglades National Park Road-Base Monitoring, US National Park Service, Miami, FL.

Tamiami Trail, FL
Everglades National Park, Miami, FL

Stretching between Tampa and Miami in southern Florida, the Tamiami Trail is a 275-mile roadway crossing the Florida Everglades from east to west and was revered as an engineering feat upon its completion in 1928. Over time, however, the Tamiami Trail has created environmental impacts and interrupted water flows.

Part of the Tamiami Trail, along US Highway 41 (US 41), forms a barrier between Everglades National Park (the Park) and the adjacent L-29 canal that supplies essential water to the Park’s ecosystems. Although the National Park Service (NPS) wants as much water in the canal as possible, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) limits the water level in the canal to prevent highway damage. In 2016, the two agencies struck a deal that allows a canal water level of up to 7.0 feet North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) if the water levels are continuously monitored and the data are made available online in real time.

In 2018, RESPEC was selected to set up a data management and collection system for the canal. RESPEC designed and installed a real-time, road-base monitoring system to accomplish this effort using Campbell Scientific equipment. Water-level piezometers, bubblers, and highway soil-moisture probes were installed at six locations adjacent to US 41 along with telemetry equipment and dataloggers. The data are transmitted by cellular gateway to an online dashboard where the FDOT, NPS, and South Florida Water Management District can view real-time, water-level and soil-moisture charts and download data files. The real-time system sends email and text notifications when current water- and soil-moisture levels exceed preset thresholds.  The system is designed to function autonomously, which allows the Everglades ecosystems to receive as much essential water as possible while protecting the highway from damage.