By Ted Scouten

BROWARD (CBSMiami) – When trains roll through downtown Fort Lauderdale they can snarl traffic on busy cross streets and make marine movement on the New River come to a halt. The solution is to either go above or below.

“A tunnel is the only solution,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

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He loves the idea of a three-mile tunnel from NE 13 St. to just south of Davie Blvd. He said it’s especially important considering the possible expansion of Brightline, which could bring up to 45 trains a day with new stops all over Broward and Miami-Dade.

“One of the key questions as part of that system is how do we get more trains across the New River so that it doesn’t negatively impact the marine community and traffic along Broward Boulevard?” said Ben Porritt, senior vice president at Brightline.

The Las Vegas Convention Center is already using tunneling technology from Elon Musk’s Boring Company. A group of city and county leaders, along with Brightline, saw firsthand how less expensive new tunnel boring technology is working in Vegas and how it could work in South Florida.

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“We’re going to need two tunnels, one in each direction,” said Mayor Trantalis. “And so it would be $50 million for each tunnel for three miles, which is far less than a billion dollars a mile we were told by FDOT’s estimates.”

And the mayor said that technology could be used to build things like a tunnel to the beach from downtown or a host of other projects.

“Instead of doing the sewage pipes the way we have been doing it, we can do a 12-foot bore, put the sewage pipe in there and have room for maintenance and we could put all kinds of other utilities with in that 12-foot space,” he said.

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez is a fan too. He wonders if an affordable tunnel could alleviate traffic on Brickell by replacing the drawbridge over the Miami River.

I have spoken to Elon Musk about the possibility of beginning with a small project, which is the tunnel underneath the Brickell Bridge, which creates tremendous gridlock in our community,” Mayor Suarez said.

Mayor Suarez as well as a delegation from the city and county will head to Las Vegas on March 18. While there, they will get a look a similar tunnel in Las Vegas.

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Officials from the Boring Company are expected in Fort Lauderdale later this month to survey the possible project.

Ted Scouten