I'd been asked a lot of things in advance of an interview with a source, but the text from Chris Hodgkins was my first wardrobe question: "What size shoes do you wear?"
Hodgkins is a vice president with MAT Concessionaire, the conglomerate formed to build, and eventually operate, the Miami Tunnel. More than four years after beginning construction, the $1 billion tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of May.
The twin three-quarter mile tubes will carry cargo trucks and other vehicles down under Government Cut, linking Watson Island to Dodge Island, the home of PortMiami. The project is designed to improve traffic in downtown Miami by taking the truck and cruise-passenger traffic off the Port Boulevard bridge and under Biscayne Bay.
The Miami Tunnel is also a sign of the changing landscape for global trade. The tunnel will open as work to widen the Panama Canal continues about 1150 miles south of us. Florida hopes to capitalize on the bigger ships carrying more cargo, and bringing more jobs.
Miami may be known as the gateway to Latin America, but its top trading partner is China. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale does more business from South and Central America. Is South Florida ready for more? Will it come when the canal widening is completed?
On the May 12 edition of the Sunshine Economy, it's "Faster, Bigger, Deeper: Trade and Logistics in South Florida."