Port of Miami billion dollar tunnel project underway

By Mark Weithorn….
June 11th  marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a tunnel from the MacArthur Causeway to the Port of Miami.  This is in partnership with Miami Access Tunnel LLC (MAT), The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Miami-Dade County, and The City of Miami.  This project which is expected to take 5-years is looking to remove trucks from having to use the downtown Miami streets as their only access to and from the port.  Also with the widening of the Panama Canal, state planners are preparing for an increase in shipping into the Port of Miami which is already the second busiest port.
Trucks will enter the tunnel from Watson Island a few hundred yards East of the intra-coastal bridge.  There will be four lanes in the center of the highway; two eastbound lanes for entering the tunnel, and two westbound lanes for exiting.  The length will be approximately 3,700 feet.
FDOT is first building three new eastbound travel lanes on Watson Island along with a new service road for access to the Children’s Museum and Jungle Island.  These roads should be ready in the early fall of 2010, and  once completed the eastbound traffic will be diverted to these lanes.  FDOT will use the older eastbound road as the staging area for the tunnel.
In preparation for the digging, Herrenknecht of Germany is manufacturing the tunnel-boring machine.  At a cost of $45 million, this round machine has a 42-foot diameter and is 380 feet long.  It should arrive in September 2011 and will be assembled on site.  The plan is to dig a road 100 feet under the bedrock floor of the port channel.
FDOT and the City of Miami Beach are presently working together to insure that the project moves smoothly and safely.
Miami Beach leaders are presently in negotiations with FDOT to look at widening SR 395 between Biscayne Boulevard and I-95.  Presently it is 2 lanes in each direction.  This will create a bottleneck effect for westbound traffic.  FDOT is also studying the SR 395 Bridge over Biscayne Boulevard to ensure that it can handle the increased weight brought on by the increased volume of trucks.
You can view full details of the tunnel plans at www.PortOfMiamiTunnel.com.

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