MIAMI (CBS4) – A milestone in the construction of the Miami Tunnel at PortMiami.
Monday morning, around 8 a.m., a massive drill nicknamed Harriet broke through on Watson Island and completed the boring process for the westbound tunnel.
“Blood, sweat and tears. We work real hard at it,” said PortMiami crew member Paul Gibbs.
This was the second leg of the Miami Tunnel, the roundtrip, underground route which connects the mainland to Port Miami.
The massive boring machine has spent more than a year and half of sub-terrain rotations, digging first the eastbound and then the westbound tubes of the billion dollar project.
“This is the largest bored tunnel in North America,” said Miami Tunnel Vice-President Chris Hodgkins. “It’s something that we celebrate basically, because all of the work that went into this were from local folks.”
Workers will now begin the final phase of the project which will ease traffic from downtown streets.
When complete the Miami Tunnel will relieve cargo traffic from Downtown Miami by diverting it from I-395 to PortMiami.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he has been pleased with the progress of the project which has seen its detractors.
“A lot of people were opposed to this project, they thought it could never be done, obviously they’re wrong,” said Gimenez.
For the men and women in the proverbial, and literal, trenches, Monday’s break through was a moment to relish and rest a bit because while Harriet’s work may be done, there is much more to do.
“It’s going to look like an ant farm around here. We’re going to hire another 100 people, we have to do all the finishing work, we’ve got to be done by next year for substantial completion,” said Hodgkins.
More than 500 workers, 80 percent from Miami-Dade, and 400 companies representing an additional 7,000 workers came together to make the tunnel project happen. For Florenco Cabarales, the break through Monday was a bitter sweet moment. Now that Harriet has finished its job and will begin to be dismantled, Cabarales said her days on the job are number too.
“As she goes, sooner or later we’re going to have to go too,” said Cabarales.
Workers will now build the actual road inside the tunnels. Paving, emergency exits and final touches will take place until May of next year when the project is scheduled to be completed.