The brutal math begins

At $60 million a mile, the Keys may abandon some roads to sea rise rather than raise them

Miami Herald 12/5/2019

Elevating less than three miles of Old State Road 4A on Sugarloaf Key to withstand sea rise and king tide by 2025 could cost $75 million, Monroe’s head of resilience revealed at a sea level rise conference in Key West on Wednesday. Elevating for 2045 could cost $128 million. And by 2060, that price tag could soar to $181 million.

The county has 314 miles of road to care for — or choose to abandon. Half of them are susceptible to sea rise in the next 20 years. The cost to keep them dry has county government officials openly questioning whether the math is worth it.

“Are we really going to spend $128 million to elevate three miles of road where 30 people live? It’s not up to me, but I don’t think so,” said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s head of resilience.

That’s $4.2 million per resident displaced, just to raise the road. Would it not be far cheaper to simply buy the property, condemn it, and deal with reality? These decisions are going to keep arising in the years to come, and will not get less expensive.