MIAMI (CBS4) – Construction of the new Port of Miami tunnel is about to take a giant leap forward with the arrival, later this week, of a giant machine that will bore the tunnel.

The machine is scheduled to arrive on aboard a cargo ship from Germany on Thursday, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

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The huge machine, longer than a football field and about as tall as a four-story building, is arriving in parts. Crews will assemble it over the next few months at Watson Island. Once assembled, the machine will weigh more than 2,500 tons.

Construction of the $45 million machine marks the biggest phase of the $1 billion tunnel project before actual boring begins.

The project is supposed to ease traffic congestion from cargo trucks heading to the port of Miami.

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Boring beneath Government Cut in Biscayne Bay is expected to begin in October. The tunnel will consist of two tubes featuring two lanes each.

Construction is expected to be complete by May of 2014.

The only controversy concerning the tunnel project is where to dump material excavated from underneath the bay. Project managers want permission to use Virginia Key or alternative sites. Environmentalists have raised objections to depositing the rocks, soil and other debris on the key, which they consider to be an environmentally sensitive site that should be a park or wildlife preserve.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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