South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) met with Clewiston City Commissioners to announce updates on a project that has been on the city’s wish list for several years.
The S-169 structure, which provides both flood protection to the city and water supply to area agricultural fields, is well past its life expectancy. The city has talked with the district previously about relocating the structure further west, and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working nearby on the dike, the project has been kicked back into motion.
Residents are likely familiar with S-169, as it connects the boat basin parking lot with the Herbert Hoover Dike. Without S-169, residents and visitors could not access the picnic area along the rim canal.
SFWMD conducted a feasibility study on the structure in 2011, and with the help of the city selected a new site near the industrial canal west of Walmart. It was also determined the existing structure was no longer large enough to meet current water demands.
In 2012, repairs were made to the failing structure, but the relocation project has once again gained momentum since the Army Corps concluded the structure was past its life expectancy.
Despite its conclusion, the Army Corps said the district could not begin the relocation process until it finished its own project on the failing dike. Residents may be ringing in 2020 before the district is able to begin its project, unless it can convince the corps to run the projects concurrently.
Once the project begins, the district expects a 1.5-year timeline from start to finish.
The city is also on the hook to build a new access bridge once the existing structure is moved. Commissioners have expressed interest in building a bridge that would allow boats to travel underneath, opening up access to the canal on the western side of the structure to boat traffic.
According to City Manager Al Perry, the public may be cut off from access to the levee for about a month, unless the city can seek funds for a temporary bridge.
The city will also seek funds to build the new, permanent bridge. With a projected cost of upwards of $1.5 million (bridge with a 12-footclearance spanning a 180-foot-wide canal), the city will likely need help from the state.