"An inland traffic corridor in Florida is being promoted by the Trump administration as a top project in its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, even as the state grapples with rising sea levels along its 1,200-mile coastline.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao touted the $2.3 billion "I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project" as one of the nation's premier highway rebuilds in an op-ed published in the Orlando Sentinel.
But the projects that may have the greatest consequence are along the state's fragile shorelines, where Florida is likely to see stress from development and changes to the environment over the next 50 to 100 years. Experts say that any infrastructure program capable of protecting Florida's nearly 21 million residents and hundreds of billions of dollars in coastal property must account for climate change and the prospect of dramatically rising seas.
"Obviously for a state like Florida, accounting for [sea-level rise] is going to be fundamental to any new coastal infrastructure having any longevity to it," said Andrea Dutton, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Florida and nationally recognized expert on sea-level rise. "Whether or not we want to choose to believe in climate change, we will end up spending a lot of public dollars to adapt to a changing shoreline in the future.""