74ºF

Traffic tunnels in South Florida? Local leaders want them and experts say it’s possible logistically

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Local leaders are looking underground with hopes of ending South Florida’s seemingly endless traffic gridlock issues.

The question is whether this ‘tunnel vision’ will become a reality.

The possible plan is a cool one, starting out relatively small, though a three-mile underground tunnel certainly isn’t small.

The idea is that the first tunnel could lead to a whole system of tunnels running under our feet and freeing up traffic.

When thinking of the name Elon Musk, one probably thinks of exploring space, but not necessarily exploring the underground.

That’s exactly what Musk wants to do in South Florida.

Broward County Vice Mayor Michael Udine and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis were the latest South Florida leaders to speak with executives from The Boring Company about future plans for underground travel in our area.

“We see just from some of this chatter and from using the phone and from Twitter, we’ve been able to make contact with executives from around the world to try and talk and promote the South Florida tech landscape,” said Udine.

The first step could be a 3-mile tunnel in Fort Lauderdale from Northeast 13th Street south to Davie Boulevard, allowing more trains to go by, without snarling street and water traffic.

“Our roads are clogged with cars, people are frustrated so it’s about time to rethink how we get from point A to point B,” said Trantalis.

The conversation all started with a tweet exchange between Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Musk. Even Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava chimed in.

That’s what got this ball rolling.

“I’m excited about it,” said Suarez. “It’s very rare that you have an alignment of factors where the governor, myself, and the county mayor are all coalescing together around an issue that is so important to solving transportation, which is one of the big issues in our community.”

As for a price tag, building tunnels normally costs $1 billion per mile. The Boring Company claims they can do it for as little as $10 to $20 million, a fraction of the cost.

It could be a while before any of this becomes a reality, though. These are very early-stage conversations.

WATCH: The second part of Ian Margol’s report can be seen below:

If these plans do move forward, it begs the questions of how this would be possible in South Florida. According to some local experts, it can be done but it won’t be easy.

Doctor Atorod Azizinamini is the director of the Moss School of Infrastructure and Sustainability at FIU.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” he said.

In fact, while it would not be easy, Dr. Azazinamini says it is very possible, even probable.

“There is really no better alternative to reduce the traffic jams that we are facing in South Florida, especially Miami,” he said. “I think it’s an excellent idea.”

Others, like FIU Environmental Engineering Professor Dr. Berrin Tansel, believe while it has worked in other parts of the country, tunnels may not be the best solution for South Florida.

“Here we don’t have any elevation, we have soft subsurface which is dissolving gradually as we speak,” said Dr. Tansel.

She said that could lead to structural instability, which could be solved with the right engineering.

In fact, there are two tunnels already operational in South Florida, but Dr. Tansel is still hesitant, mostly because she prefers the sunshine, to being underground.

“It could solve some of the transportation problems, but we are here, in my opinion, to be outdoors not in tunnels,” she said with a laugh.

Representatives from The Boring Company are planning a trip to South Florida to sample the ground and get a better idea of what they’re working with, but they are a long way from breaking ground on anything.


About the Author: