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PortMiami Tunnel Boring Machine To Have “Break Out” Moment

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"Harriet" begins drilling first of two tunnels under Biscayne Bay for the new Port of Miami Tunnel.  (Source: MAT CONCESSIONAIRE LLC)

“Harriet” begins drilling first of two tunnels under Biscayne Bay for the new Port of Miami Tunnel. (Source: MAT CONCESSIONAIRE LLC)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Construction of the new $1 billion PortMiami tunnel is expected to reach a milestone Tuesday when the tunnel boring machine breaks through DodgeIsland.

“Right now, it’s our halftime,” Project Manager Chris Hodgkins said Monday as crews continued to drill the final few feet in the eastbound direction.

When it resurfaces Tuesday morning, the boring machine, also known as “Harriet”, will have traveled 4,200 feet under Government Cut to create the first of two tunnel chambers.

The completed tunnel will consist of two tubes featuring two lanes each.

“Without having improved access in and out, this port really could not grow,” PortMiami Director Bill Johnson said.

Crews officially broke ground on the project two years ago, but digging didn’t start until November 2011.

Eight months later, a set of green crosshairs mark the spot where “Harriet” will resurface.

“Our tunnel manager will be talking to the tunnel boring machine pilot as we direct that tunnel boring machine that’s four stories tall and a football field and a half long to pop out on the earth over here and complete that eastbound tunnel,” Hodgkins explained.

After arriving at the Port, Harriet will be partly disassembled, turned around and re-assembled for the trip back to WatsonIsland that will create the second tunnel chamber.

Once completed, 1.5 million trucks a year are expected to travel through the tunnel.

While the end may be in sight, those who drive the construction-filled causeway are bracing for two more years of traffic.

“I think I have to get up earlier so I can get on time for the kids,” Gean Paul Reshuan said. His three young sons go to school nearby. “But there’s nothing we can do.”

“The traffic, it can be unbearable, especially when there are events downtown and you want to get home,” Venice Lacy vented. “You want it to get done, but you deal with it because it’s a positive thing for the community.”

Construction began May 2010, and the project is expected to be completed in May 2014.

The PortMiami Tunnel project is a public-private partnership between Miami Access Tunnel, FDOT, Miami-DadeCounty and the City of Miami.

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