Port Tunnel Team Bores On
By Blanca Venegas
Work continues underground for the much-anticipated Port of Miami Tunnel, having now entered its 40th month of 55 months of construction.
"This tunnel will be substantially completed in May 2014," said Christopher Hodgkins, vice president of MAT Concessionaire LLC, during last week’s Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s April trustee luncheon.
"Then, in August 2014, we will open the tunnel for cargo and cruise traffic," he added.
The tunnel broke ground in 2010 and aims at to enable freight and cruise passengers to move efficiently in and out of Port Miami.
"These things don’t just happen or fall out of the sky," Mr. Hodgkins said. "They happen because people and the leadership of the chamber advocated forcefully to see this tunnel come about."
According to a Miami Tunnel update report, contractor Bouygues Civil Works Florida said underground work continues on Watson and Dodge islands, as the tunnel boring machine, dubbed "Harriet," continues mining the westbound tube and is almost halfway under Government Cut.
"The end result of [the tunnel] is now we have over 7,000 people, based on certified payroll," Mr. Hodgkins said. "80% come right here from Miami-Dade."
The project has hired 6,728 employees and contractors, representing a 62% increase in six months and 157% increase year to date, the report shows.
The Port of Miami Tunnel website states that design and construction costs are currently at $663 million, and that "MAT will be paid $156 million in milestone payments from the Florida Department of Transportation during construction and will self-finance the rest, partly through a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation." An additional $350 million milestone payment us to be made to MAT upon final acceptance.
These payments will begin once the tunnel opens to the public, the site says, and will come from state funds, as well as local funds contributed by Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami.
Aside from the tunnel, PortMiami’s plans for the next 50 years include dredging the main channel to accommodate Post-Panamax ships and the rehabilitation of the rail at the port.
As for the popular cruise industry, PortMiami plans on investing in new larger terminals and multimodal centers in 2035, as well as providing a commercial development on site.
Details on the tunnel: www.portofmiamitunnel.com. To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.