Miami to build port tunnel

| 5/9/2007

The Florida Department of Transportation named a consortium headed by an Australian investment firm as the preferred bidder to build and operate a tolled tunnel for Port of Miami traffic.

FDOT’s goal for the tunnel is to keep heavy-truck and bus traffic moving from the Port of Miami to Interstate 395 without adding to an already congested downtown, according to a press release. All traffic currently uses city streets to get between the two points.

FDOT issued a notice of intent to accept a bid from Miami Access Tunnel, a group headed by financial advisory firm Babcock & Brown, to finance, build, operate and maintain the estimated $822 million tunnel.

Approximately 5,500 trucks and buses travel to and from the port each day, according to FDOT.

The Babcock consortium will pay the state $33.2 million up-front, along with $100 million in progress payments and an additional $350 million concession payment

The investment consortium would keep toll revenue generated by tunnel traffic for 35 years while maintaining the structure and operations.

– By David Tanner, staff writer