The PortMiami Tunnel, after nearly four years of construction costing almost $1 billion, has been open for five days. City and state officials say it will take 16,000 cars, taxis, buses, and trucks out of the downtown area by creating a direct bypass under Biscayne Bay between Interstate 95 and PortMiami, which rests on man-made Dodge Island.
Seaboard Marine, the Miami-based ocean carrier that serves the Caribbean and Central and South America, said it is already reaping the benefits of the tunnel's direct access to the port. The company issued a statement on Sunday, the tunnel's first day open to traffic, saying that the first dozen containers to move on trucks on the dedicated roadway were from Seaboard.
Seaboard also operates one of the terminals at PortMiami.
The tunnel has two separate two-lane tubes.
PortMiami CEO Juan Kuryla said in an interview last week that he expects drayage trucks to save about 25 minutes round trip through the port because of the tunnel, which could enable truckers to make an extra trip each day and earn more money. Seaboard said its new entrance, which opened in January, is also more automated and allows trucks to be checked in more quickly.
The existing six-lane PortMiami bridge will remain open and is expected to be used by those already in the downtown area. Oversize and hazmat loads are prohibited from using the tunnel and must take the bridge.
The tunnel, built through a public-private partnership, is one in a series of massive infrastructure upgrades designed to make the port ready for the widening of the Panama Canal in 2016 that will allow ultra-large container vessels to transit directly between the U.S. East coast and Asia. Miami will be the first port in the Southeast to have its navigation channel dredged to 50-feet, a process that is expected to be completed next year. It has also added extra-large cranes to reach across the new generation of container vessels and has recently added on-dock intermodal rail service to more efficiently move cargo to and form the docks.
There are no tolls to use the tunnel. The private consortium that designed, built and financed the tunnel will also operate and maintain it in exchange for monthly payments from the state of Florida for keeping it open to the public and in top condition.
For a video tour of the PortMiami Tunnel, check out the latest AS Insider report.