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The Port of Miami Tunnel | by Rob Olivera
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The Port of Miami Tunnel

The PortMiami Tunnel project is a highly complex project built through a public-private partnership (PPP or P3) that includes the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of said project. It is a 35-year concession agreement between the Florida Department of Transportation (Owner) and MAT Concessionaire, LLC (Concessionaire). It took 55 months for design and was completed in August 2014 by Bouygues Civil Works Florida (BCWF).

Nearly 16,000 vehicles travel to and from the PortMiami (POM) through downtown streets each weekday. Truck traffic makes up 28% (or 4,480) of this number (Source: 2009 PB Americas Traffic Study). Existing truck and bus routes restrict the port’s ability to grow, drive up costs for port users and present safety hazards. They also congest and limit redevelopment of the northern portion of Miami’s Central Business District.

The benefits of the PortMiami Tunnel include:

Providing a direct connection from the PortMiami to highways via Watson Island to I-395

Keeping the PortMiami, the County’s second largest economic generator, competitive

Making downtown streets safer by reducing congestion on downtown streets

 

The PortMiami provides 176,000 jobs, $6.4 billion in wages and $17 billion in economic output.

(Source: 2007 Port of Miami Economic Impact Study).

Planning, Design and Construction

The POMT project is an integral component of a larger program incorporating operational improvements to SR-836 (from the existing toll station to the I-95 Interchange) and I-395. Multiple options for increasing port access were explored. Only the Watson Island tunnel has met all requirements and local, state and federal standards.

The Project will include:

Tunnel under Government Cut

Roadway work on Dodge and Watson Islands

MacArthur Causeway Bridge widening

A 43 foot diameter tunnel boring machine specifically constructed for the project will be used.

 

Finance

The POMT is a public-private partnership (PPP) designed to transfer the responsibility to design-build-finance-operate-and-maintain (“DBFOM”) the project to the private sector. It is a technically challenging project that attracted three bidding consortia comprised of several of the most technically sophisticated and financially-sound constructors and financiers in the world. Under the concession agreement, FDOT will make milestone payments to the concessionaire during the construction period, upon the achievement of contractual milestones.

Once the construction is completed, the department will then make availability payments to the concessionaire. These payments will be contingent upon actual lane availability and service quality. The tunnel will be returned to FDOT in first-class condition at the end of the contract in October 2044.

The total cost of design and construction of the tunnel is set at $668.5 million. The state has agreed to pay for 50 percent of the capital costs (design, construction) and all of the operations and maintenance, while the remaining 50 percent of the capital costs will be provided by Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami.

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Taken on February 21, 2021