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Tunnel To PortMiami Opening Sunday Morning

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Port Miami Tunnel connecting the airport and the interstate directly to and from PortMiami is set to open Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

"We're doing all the striping and final touches to get ready to open up this tunnel," said Christopher Hodgkins, the vice president of the company operating the tunnel.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami will be leading the procession into the new tunnel on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The tunnel was supposed to open in May, but was set back due to some necessary repairs. A pipe cracked causing leaks and there were problems with two of the 44 jet fans designed to circulate air and keep toxic fumes out of the tunnel.

The contractor was fined $115,00 dollars a day for the delay.

"We're behind schedule, we had to make sure what we are delivering to the tax payer is a perfect tunnel and that's what we've done," Hodgkins added. "We've spent the last few weeks doing quality control inspections and making sure that what we turn over to the Port and the Florida Department of Transportation is nothing less than excellence."

Over the past two months, the Florida Department of Transportation officials said successful jet fan and force main repairs, fire safety drills and testing and commissioning of the tunnel have taken place.

"We have worked 24-7 for the past two months trying to make sure we could find out what problems there were inside this tunnel. We've done as much as we can to make sure the quality of product and safety and operational excellence are going to be all part of what we give as part of the service to this tunnel," said Hodgkins.

Both cruise and cargo traffic can use the tunnel to access PortMiami. The tunnel restrictions are a maximum height of 15 feet and a maximum width of 8 feet 6 inches.

Hodgkins said safety is the top priority.

The tunnel includes fire systems, 91 cameras, and a system to monitor trucks and passenger vehicles as well as anyone who is not supposed to be in the tunnel. Bicyclists and pedestrians are not allowed in the tunnel.

The tunnel has two tubes – one heading eastbound and one heading westbound.

"We have five cross passages that go from one tunnel tube to the other tunnel tube," explained Hodgkins.  "Should there be any type of emergency and you need to escape you're able to go through one tunnel into the other tunnel."

The project cost $700,000,000, according to Hodgkins.  He added taxpayer money will not be used for the tunnel until it opens.

There is no toll for the tunnel.

Restricted cargo will continue to use the Port Boulevard Bridge.

Watch the report, click here.


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