New Opera House May Become Part Of Mixeduse Project
Written by Susan Stabley on May 29, 2003
By Susan Stabley
Construction of a $215 million tunnel connecting the Brickell area to Miami’s downtown core could be under way "within four years," City of Miami transportation planner Clark Turner said Tuesday.
The tunnel is one of many projects approved by city commissioners last week, as part of Miami’s Downtown Transportation Master Plan.
Officials amended the plan to speed planning for the tunnel, targeted to dip under the Miami River at Southwest First Avenue, immediately east of the Metrorail line.
Also pushed forward was Mayor Manny Diaz’s vision of replacing Interstate 395 with a landscaped "grand boulevard." The open-cut style of highway envisioned would be partly covered with walkways.
If preliminary engineering and environmental studies begin by summer’s end, Mr. Turner said, construction on the tunnel could begin within four years. "That’s not an outrageous assumption."
Funds for the tunnel are secured by a half-cent countywide sales tax earmarked for transportation improvements and OK’d by voters in November. The tax is to bring the city about $10 million in annual revenue.
Capt. David Miller, managing director of the Miami River Commission, said the tunnel will allow a free flow of traffic by cars and boats. The commission released a report in February by Everglades Economics that compares tunnel costs to bridges at two other sites along the river.
Bridges, with a 70-year life span, cost about $25 million to build and require rehabilitation every 20 years. Estimates for tunnels range from $24 million to $80 million and cause no congestion when used.
South Florida’s only tunnel runs under Fort Lauderdale’s New River, built in 1961 for $6.6 million – the equivalent today of about $40 million.