Port of Miami Tunnel gets underway Jul 2010
Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk
- It took time for the Port of Miami Tunnel to become a project but things have moved on since the public funding accord back in October 2009 transferred the 35-year PPP design-build-finance-operate-and-maintain concession to the Miami Access Tunnel (MAT) group.
Groundbreaking by elected officials
- Since then the MAT group, led by the giant French conglomerate Bouygues, has signed a $607 million design-build contract with Bouygues Publics Trauvaux (the heavy civil construction division of the conglomerate) for construction of the 3,900ft (1.1km) long twin-tube, four-lane tunnel. An order has been placed with Herrenknecht for a 42ft (12.8m) EPB TBM to excavate the undersea drives.
- The twin tube tunnel and its associated works will create a new connection under the main shipping canal to the city's cruise and container port on Dodge Island. The new route will divert heavy port traffic away from the city streets of Miami and direct it instead through the tunnel and via a widening of the MacArthur Causeway and bridge from Watson Island to Interstate Highway I-395.
- Mobilization of the project will continue ahead of next spring's scheduled arrival of the Herrenknecht EPBM from the Schwanau factory in Germany. Once assembled, the machine will progress from a work site on Watson Island and pass 120ft (36.5m) below the sea surface to complete each of the 1.2km long, two-lane tunnels.
Undersea tunnel link to Miami Port on Dodge Island
- At the recent ground breaking ceremony Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, as well as elected state, county and city officials,lent their support to the $1.3 billion project. Representatives of Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT), business and community leaders, and MAT managers also attended the ceremony.
- In a last-ditch effort to save the project, Florida's state government agreed to pay half the capital cost and cover all operational and maintenance costs. The other half of the building costs will be shared by the local county and city governments. The October 2009 financial agreement transferred the project to MAT, which has a financial plan in place that combines partner equity with federal loans to finance construction.
- A Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan will be administered by FDOT and paid as milestone payments to MAT during the project's development. Once completed, FDOT will make annual operating and maintenance payments to MAT depending on the availability of the infrastructure throughout the concession.
- Under a separate agreement, MAT has signed a contract with group partner Transfield Services to operate and maintain the toll road route.
New tunnel route comes in under the Government Cut channel
- Transfield acquired US-based infrastructure operating and maintenance company VMS in October 2007, and via that acquisition it operates and maintains a number of highways and road tunnel facilities already. These include the road+rail Whittier Tunnel in Alaska and 17 tunnels on the national highway system in Washington, D.C.
- At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Alvarez said: The Port Tunnel is the most significant investment at our port since the creation of Government Cut [the shipping canal]. "The tunnel promises to transform downtown Miami as we know it. It is not only an investment in Miami-Dade County, but in our region and our State."
- The tunnel and new access route is scheduled to open in 2014.
- Miami Port Tunnel finally a project! - TunnelTalk, Oct 2009
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