After 4 years of construction, and then a faulty equipment delay after the opening ceremony, the PortMiami tunnel is open and ready for transit.
For the first time, a caravan of trucks, cars, and motorcyles drove through the PortMiami Tunnel. Leading the pack were the Archbishop of Miami on his Harley and law enforcement officials.
"It's a phenomenal day," said Port director Juan Kuryla. "We've been waiting for this day for so long."
Open and toll-free, the tunnel connects the airport and interstate highway to and from PortMiami. One entrance is on the McCarthur Causeway in Watson Island, the other in Dodge Island off of Port Blvd.
"It's going to be great for the city, great for the county, and it makes our port more competitive," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. "It allows all the vehicles to go directly to the interstate."
Without traffic, cruise ship passengers and cargo trucks will be in and out of the tunnel within 90 seconds driving at 35 mph. It is a great feeling for many who drive to the port on a daily basis.
"You're going to have those trucks off downtown and they're going to come through the tunnel, so it's going to improve the quality of life as well for Miami Dade County," said Kuryla.
The $1 billion project, more than 30 years in the making, was scheduled for completion by its May opening ceremony. However, leaking drainage pipes and faulty exhaust fans caused a more than 2-month delay.
"Certainly it's all safe," said Florida Department of Transportation District Secretary Gus Pego. "They'll be operating and maintaining it for the next 30 years."
Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz says the county is proud of the PortMiami Tunnel. "This is one of those accomplishments that today history was made and we're very proud of that," said Diaz.
For any traffic and lane closure information regarding the tunnel, the Dept of Transportation encourages drivers to call 511.