The window for public comment on the latest Everglades tourism project is closing soon. The controversial River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) would be a 75-mile bike path running along U.S. 41 from Naples to Miami.
Since the project was proposed in 2012, environmentalists have petitioned and protested, saying the path would set back Everglades restoration. Supporters and ROGG committee members say the path would create a safe way for people to enjoy the park and increase Everglades education.
If you’re on the fence about the project, here’s a look at what both sides have to say.
Who: The ROGG was proposed by the Naples Pathway Coalition. Miami Parks and Recreation along with an elected committee would oversee project management.
What: The bike path would be 75 miles long with rest stops every 10 miles. The ROGG committee plans to include a shuttle service to take people from their cars to the park.
More information can be found on the ROGG website. The last day to submit public comments is Wednesday, July 15.
WILL PEOPLE USE THE ROGG?
“There are over one million visitors to Everglades National Park each year… People want to be in the Everglades, they want to be in our national parks.” -- Jane Cheffy, president of the Naples Pathway Coalition.
Opponents: Maybe, but not as much as you’d think. The money would be better used in urban areas.
“Most people are not up for a 40-50 mile bicycle trip. What’s more likely is that people would get in their car, drive to where they want to be and use their bicycle for local sightseeing. Miami is a very dangerous place to ride. We should focus on fixing our urban roads first.” -- Noel Cleland, secretary for the Miami Sierra Club.
WILL IT HARM THE ENVIRONMENT?
Supporters: No, the Tamiami Trail has already been paved. The pathway would also lower car emissions in the area.
“The pathway [will go] right along U.S. 41. It’s not going into some undisturbed part of the Everglades. It provides a safe way for people to walk and see the beauty of the everglades or to ride their bike.
"People want to be in the Everglades. Do you want them going there in a car or a truck or would you rather have them walking or riding a bike.” -- Jane Cheffy.
“The ROGG [committee] started off with the idea that they want to do this with minimal environmental impact, but you can’t get around the fact that there’s a lot of destruction that’s going to go along with this.
"Additional construction would need to be made in order to make room for the different kind of cyclists. ... By the time you start talking about that you really need 14 to 15 feet [of paved road].” -- Noel Cleland
WILL IT ENCROACH ON PROTECTED OR SACRED LAND?
Supporters: No, feasibility and land surveys would be done before construction.
Opponents: Yes, some sacred land is unmarked.
IS THE BIKE PATH NECESSARY?
Supporters: Yes, the Tamiami Trail road is too dangerous for people to be near.
“What [people] would pretty much have to do is drive somewhere, get out of their car and walk around on the side of the road. The traffic on U.S. 41 travels at speeds… in excess of 60 miles an hour. It’s very dangerous.” -- Jane Cheffy
Opponents: No, and it will open the door to more construction.
“[People] will need restrooms, water... Are businesses going to pop up around there so people have something to eat?” -- Noel Cleland