PortMiami tunnel open for business
A new tunnel to PortMiami that is projected to eliminate 1 million
truck trips per year from downtown streets opened Sunday at 10
a.m., one day sooner than previously scheduled, spokeswoman Andria Muniz
The tunnel, built at a cost of more than $900 million, directly
connects PortMiami with Interstate 95. An opening ceremony was
officially held May 19, but a series of glitches delayed the start of
traffic. The port authority's Muniz said the project passed the state
fire marshal's final inspection on Friday.
The final issue resolved was rattling of two giant exhaust fans.
Another problem was a leaking underground pipe used to recirculate
rainwater and other water for safety and operational purposes.
Construction crews had to tear up 2,000 feet of concrete and reset new
Miami Access Tunnel (MAT) Concessionaire, the financial consortium
hired by the state to design, build, finance and operate the tunnel for
35 years, refused to accept the tunnel from French contractor Bouygues
Travaux Publics until the problems were corrected.
The tunnel is expected to shave 25 minutes from a port shuttle
truck's round trip to the port, potentially making it possible for
drivers to add at least one more revenue-bearing trip to their 11-hour
driving day, Port Director Juan Kuryla, told American Shipper during a wide-ranging interview in his office.
The tunnel will also be an alternative route for 7 million passenger
vehicles, taxis, buses, and provisioning trucks trying to reach the
world's largest cruise terminal, helping to reduce downtown congestion
and idling that produces harmful emissions.
There will be no tolls on the tunnel. The concessionaire will make
money through "availability payments" from the state of Florida. In
addition to $156 million in construction milestone payments, the company
will receive a $350 million payment at final acceptance of the project
and then monthly payments for each month the facility is available for
public use. If the tunnel is unavailable or the operator does not meet
performance benchmarks it will not get paid.
Miami-Dade County is contributing about $358 million, and the city is
pitching in with about $50 million, in addition to donations of right
of way by both parties.
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