The Western Communities Council received a letter last week from the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce supporting the completion of State Road 7 to Northlake Blvd.
The council also received a copy of a letter from the Village of Royal Palm Beach to County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay thanking her for her support of the funding for the completion of the levee that separates the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area from The Acreage. The state sent $3.5 million to the South Florida Water Management District last year for the project, but another $4 million is needed to complete the dike.
At the last Western Communities Council meeting, members thanked McKinlay for her help supporting projects in the western communities, including those two. At that meeting, McKinlay said she and county legislative staff talked directly with legislators on transportation committees to get the road financed. She also encouraged council members to keep in contact with state representatives and the SFWMD regarding levee funding, which had not been included in the budget for next year.
The Northern Palm Beach County Chamber letter of support for SR 7 from Chairman Nathan Nason dated March 19 was addressed to Nick Uhren, executive director of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“We are writing to express our support for the planned connection of State Road 7 between 60th Street and Northlake Blvd.,” the letter stated. “The Northern Palm Beach County Chamber’s Executive and Government Affairs committees have both voted unanimously to support this connection.”
The letter called SR 7 a “vital link” between the North County area and western Palm Beach County.
“This particular planned connection of State Road 7 has the potential to relieve congestion and benefit over 200,000 residents in the northern and western communities, as well as countless businesses in both communities,” the letter continued.
The letter from Royal Palm Beach Mayor Matty Mattioli dated March 23 regarding the Corbett levee was directed to McKinlay and copied to several other state, regional, county and local officials. That letter called for a letter-writing campaign to keep attention on the levee.
“The levee separating the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area and ITID requires construction to meet engineering standards for levee systems,” Mattioli’s letter stated. “Failure of the existing levee system would inundate ITID and surrounding communities… The Village of Royal Palm Beach requests your support to have the additional $4 million appropriated to complete this project and ensure the health, safety and welfare of the residents who would be affected by a failure of this levee.”
An earlier letter from Indian Trail Improvement District President Carol Jacobs to McKinlay dated Feb. 23 explained that in 2012, Tropical Storm Isaac brought 15 to 20 inches of rain within 72 hours to some areas of central Palm Beach County, resulting in extensive flooding in The Acreage.
One of the critical concerns during state field inspections was ITID’s M-O Canal berm, which is the boundary between about 38,000 residents in The Acreage and the 60,348-acre wildlife management area.
“Over the years, ITID has had to deal with increased seepage… as a result of Corbett holding its water levels higher than the levels in the adjoining M-O Canal,” the letter stated. “As a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, elevation differences between the M-O Canal and Corbett escalated, resulting in more pressure and burden on the existing berm. During post-storm evaluations, localized slope failures, excessive seepage and the formation of boils at the base of the ITID side of the berm near the water line were observed.”
Although short-term remedial measures were initiated to strengthen the area, subsequent studies revealed that the berm needed to be strengthened to meet current engineering standards, and in September 2012, Gov. Rick Scott directed the SFWMD to immediately develop a plan for the berm.
“An additional $4 million needs to be appropriated this year to finish Phase 2 and protect the safety of the thousands of residents to the south of the M-O Canal,” the letter states. “A permanent solution is needed to address this serious situation. While Phase 1 may provide a short-term fix, a continued patchwork approach does not strengthen the berm’s existing structural integrity or serve as a short-term solution. In fact, strengthening a portion of the berm may put additional pressure on the portion of the berm that is not brought up to current levee standards, resulting in future flooding.”
Last month, the SFWMD announced that it had approved a contract to begin permanent improvements on the berm, which will include a new earthen levee 2.6 miles long, 14 feet wide at the top, 50 feet wide at the bottom and 6 feet tall. Construction, which was to begin in March, will take place over the next 14 months.