The new PortMiami tunnel’s opening is delayed until mid-June

05/28/2014 5:52 PM

06/19/2014 12:16 PM

The PortMiami tunnel’s opening to traffic has been delayed until mid-June while the $1 billion project awaits a certificate of occupancy for its operations control center, additional testing and fire-safety approvals.

The project’s contractor, Bouygues, is being charged $115,000 a day for the delay — beginning on the day of the tunnel’s dedication, May 19 — which could add up to $3 million.

“Our tunnel was physically complete last week but the devil is in the details,” said Christopher Hodgkins, vice president of Miami Access Tunnel, the multinational consortium that built the tunnel and will manage and maintain it for the next three decades. “Now we have to make sure all of our safety issues are addressed.”

The tunnel’s 91 cameras, 44 jet fans, infrared sensor system and other high-technology devices all need to be integrated and coordinated from the operations control center on Dodge Island, which is awaiting its occupancy certificate, Hodgkins said.

Then, after an intensive fire drill and approval from the state’s fire marshal, the tunnel can open to vehicular traffic, he said. The latest delays were first reported Wednesday by Miami Today.

“We’ve been working for 55 months on all these scenarios for safety,” Hodgkins said.

Once open, the tunnel will be staffed 24/7 by 30 operations personnel with equipment to clear tunnel accidents and keep traffic moving, Hodgkins said.

The tunnel, which was dedicated last week by Gov. Rick Scott, Miami-Dade County and Miami city officials, will become the first direct link for cargo trucks from expressways to the port.

Once the tunnel is open, cars and trucks will be able to enter it from the eastbound MacArthur Causeway on Watson Island and emerge at the port, between the cargo harbor and the cruise ship terminals. Until then, vehicles heading to the port must continue to drive through heavily trafficked downtown Miami.

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