A month after its ballyhooed but entirely ceremonial opening, PortMiami’s billion-dollar tunnel has yet to carry a single vehicle under Biscayne Bay — and it may be several more weeks before the tunnel is ready for real traffic, officials say.
Leaky pipes and other matters of literal nuts and bolts have prevented the tunnel from getting the necessary permits to open. The tunnel contractor is scheduled to give its latest progress report to state and local transportation officials Wednesday, but even the most optimistic no longer expect it to open before July.
“The whole project team is disappointed,” conceded Gus Pego, the senior Florida Department of Transportation official in Miami-Dade County. “The contract called for it to be done May 19, and we were fully expecting to open it then.”
The failure to deliver the tunnel has already cost the contractor, the Paris-based Bouygues, more than $3 million in fines — a sum that grows $115,000 each day. The fines go to the private consortium MAT Concessionaire, which will operate the tunnel when it opens.
Meanwhile, the state of Florida hasn’t started writing checks for the $34 million annual fee it will pay for public access to the tunnel. And the 16,000 vehicles the tunnel was expected to take off Miami’s downtown streets continue to clog the traffic grid.