Opening ceremony for PortMiami tunnel to be held on Monday

Tunnel will open to public later this month after additional tests

MIAMI – An opening ceremony will be held Monday morning for the PortMiami tunnel.

When it opens later this month, some 16,000 vehicles may travel daily to and from the port, under concrete entrances.

Construction on the tunnel is on time and on its billion-dollar budget.

"Right now we're 120' below sea level," said Chris Hodgkins, the Vice President of the Miami access tunnel. "We've got 40 feet of tunnel, 42 feet of Earth, and then we have 41 feet of sea bed. So, above us right now are six cruise ships.   This is going to be the safest tunnel in the United States."

Hodgkins sounds like a proud daddy. He's been at the helm since the boring machine crunched its way through rock and limestone 55 months ago.

"We're the only tunnel with an active and passive fire system," said Hodgkins.

The Port Tunnel design and operation incorporate layers of best practices culled from tunnels around the world, like fire boards, cameras and jet fans.

Some things will be only seen in South Florida, though like hurricane-proofing gates.

There are also emergency cross passages from Eastbound to Westbound tunnels, both monitored by a network of 91 big-brotheresque cameras.

"We also have a software system that picks up any deviants," said Hodgkins.

State inspectors were also at the Port Tunnel site Friday, as crews synchronized systems and spruced up the shiny tiled tubes, and under- the-sea artwork.

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About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."