Early this year, Florida City was awarded a competitive federal grant through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for $16,668,544. The money will be used to complete the conversion of the open drainage canal on Palm Drive to a culvert system.
Federal monies were directed to local projects through the Rebuild
Florida, Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Infrastructure Program.
CDBG-DR funding under this program was designated to rebuild property damaged by Hurricane Irma.
One major requirement for local DR grant awards was that the project be ‘shovel-ready’. Florida City just completed Phase One of the East Palm Drive canal conversion in the fall of 2020.
This grant funds Phase Two to continue the canal in a culvert back to Tennessee Road at Homestead Senior High School. Water will continue to flow to the Bay along the original track of the frontier canal.
The project also includes reconfiguration of the intersection at Palm Drive and Tennessee Road to smooth traffic flow.
“Sometimes there’s a drive to build things without regard to where all the cars will go,” said Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace. “In this case, we have a chance to marry the two, the coming growth (along Palm Drive) and planning roads to make growth bearable and sensible. You can’t have unintended consequences like choking travel lanes.”
Mayor Wallace noted, “Florida City alone has three projects there by D.R. Horton – one nearing completion and two in the wings – that will fill this roadway. There’s to be another construction project in front of the mall. All that traffic will end up on this road. This is a chance to get ahead of things before traffic becomes a disaster.”
The City of Homestead also expects significant future residential development on over 180 acres surrounding the old golf course to the south of Palm Drive.
Mayor Wallace said a second grant to Florida City would be used to construct an access roadway past the Days Inn to reach property fronting the outlet mall along the Turnpike to allow development. Plans are for a small Veterans Hospital there with additional commercial development on ten acres, possibly with some residential units. Florida City will be in charge of the roadway construction with Miami-Dade County only involved with the permitting for the Rebuild Florida grant on the Palm Drive project.
The Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair grant assigned $11,352,664 to construction costs, $2.2 million to design work, and the remainder to administration, engineering and permits.
The East Palm Drive project is expected to begin before the end of 2021 as bids are accepted.
Traffic will continue to use Palm Drive during the construction.
“We know what the underground conditions are from Phase 1,” said Mayor Wallace. “With that knowledge and an understanding of the County’s requirements, it’s expected that this project will go much faster (than Phase One).”
The East Palm Drive construction time line and the terms of the grant call for completion within two years.