The huge $1 billion Miami Tunnel project hit a milestone Tuesday when the boring machine nicknamed "Harriet" broke through on Dodge Island, completing half of the tunnel.
The two-way traffic tunnel will link Watson Island with the Port of Miami and the project's goal is to link Interstate 395/State Road 836 with the Port of Miami.
The increase in traffic will mean an increase in port capacity. Cargo trucks which now travel through downtown Miami will be routed across the MacArthur Causeway into the tunnel, under Government Cut and up onto the Port.
"Every time we add capacity to this port and it is utilized that means more jobs," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday.
Confetti shrouded the big rig, signifying that the first phase of boring was complete. The machine will be turned around, and another parallel tunnel will be completed by 2014.
Promoters of the project, which began May 24, 2010, say the tunnel will make the port more competitive and enable it to accommodate the huge loads expected when supersized cargo ships are able to navigate the widened Panama Canal.
The tunnel project, and companion projects which included dredging the Government Cut and the upgrade of the existing railway spur to the port, will greatly enhance the flow of cargo in and out of Miami.
Thousands have worked on the tunnel project.
"Your family, your cousins, your sister, your brother. Thousands locally-employed people on the project," Port of Miami Director Bill Johnson said. "That's putting America back to work."