Commentary: Finally some progress on Everglades restoration

As projects go, the Tamiami Bridge, while not cheap at $81 million, is modest compared to, say, the $515 million stadium for the Marlins or even its adjacent parking garage, now priced at $135 million. Then there's the Miami Seaport tunnel, which rings up at around $1 billion for construction.

But the bridge's significance is huge in proportion to its cost or even size at only one mile long. Even though it's not the 11-mile skyway once envisioned, it will nevertheless raise Tamiami Trail's roadbed in one section to allow water once again to begin flowing south to Taylor Slough and into Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. After its completion in 2013, the slough will again be replenished in a way it hasn't known for 85 years, when the Trail was built.

The bridge is a key component to completing the complex Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which the state of Florida and the federal government agreed to fund jointly in 2000.

In fact, the bridge -- or some other remedy to restore the sheet flow -- was first authorized by Congress in 1989. After years of lawsuits, cross-agency squabbling, design revisions, cost cutbacks and other delays, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other notables joined in the bridge groundbreaking Friday.

At the same time, a number of other CERP projects that have been idle are leaping off the drawing board. Finally, after nearly a decade when about the only movement forward was from the state's putting up $6.8 billion for land purchases and restoration and water-filtering areas, the federal government has picked up the pace.

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