An emergency drill simulating what would happen if workers got trapped in the Port Miami tunnel drilling site was held Thursday.
Every day, hundreds of construction workers are pushing the Port Miami tunnel project closer to completion. At its deepest point, the tunnel is 120 feet under Government Cut, and it is already 4,000 feet across, stretching from Interstate 395 to Dodge Island.
On Thursday, Watson Island was the staging area for a massive drill. The scenario explored what emergency responders would do if there was a fire at a construction plant and two workers were trapped deep in the tunnel.
Special vehicles were rolled out to enter the tunnel and transport specialized air packs, known as "rebreathers," that will allow firefighters to be underground for up to five hours at a time.
Miami Fire Rescue was the first responder, but Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami Beach firefighters would also pitch in in case of an emergency. Crews would use a radio gateway interface to ensure communication.
The agencies will have to meet and train several times again as the project moves from the construction phase to cars driving into the tunnel.
A federal fund will pay for the special equipment needed for emergency responders at the tunnel.
The construction phase is expected to last another year and a half. The tunnel is set to open in late 2014.