Transportation
11:55 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

PortMiami Tunnel Is Now Open To Drivers

A county vehicle makes its way through the westbound lanes of the PortMiami tunnel on Sunday.
Credit Carl Juste / Miami Herald

The PortMiami tunnel opened Sunday after months of delays.

Originally, the tunnel was to open to traffic starting in May-- an opening date which got pushed back to mid-July before the opening this weekend.

Redacted signs have been up since March, and the construction of the tunnel itself was competed in May. 

The tunnel was initially announced to open at 6 a.m. Monday morning. Chris Hodgkins, vice president of MAT Concessionaire, LLC, says the opening was moved up after the fire marshal deemed the tunnel safe for traffic.

"We were working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The harder we worked, the more we got done," Hodgkins said about the early opening.

While technically the tunnel is open to all drivers, its main purpose is to allow cargo truck drivers another route under the bay, thus relieving downtown congestion, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez explained to the Miami Herald. 

The first vehicles through the $1 billion tunnel included Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Miami-Dade Commissioner José Pepe Díaz. Afterwards, it was open to regular traffic. 

Hodgkins says that he is proud of the tunnel, which he calls one of the country's safest tunnels. 

The view inside the Port of Miami tunnel early Monday morning.
Credit Carla Javier / WLRN
"This massive, $1 billion dollar project has been really without a flaw," he explains. "Anytime that we've encountered anything less than perfect we immediately jumped on it." 

There is no charge to take the tunnel. The speed limit within it is 35 miles per hour. Cruisers are supposed to use the left lane, and trucks are supposed to use the right lane.