Miami port tunnel drilling begins

Drilling on Port of Miami tunnel continues through weekend

MIAMI - Drilling on the $1 billion port tunnel project has finally begun. 

Engineers said it started at 4 a.m. Friday, and the drilling continued through the weekend. 

The drill is self-sealing, meaning it is excavating and sealing and installing concrete rings that form the actual tunnel walls. Those three segments make up about 20 feet of earth that has been excavated. 

An elaborate conveyor belt system has moved the soil over the causeway, and dump trucks are hauling it away. 

Workers have installed three temporary segments, or rings, successfully and sometime next week, they plan to start installing permanent rings.   

The drill itself was custom-built for this project and has a name. 

"We had a contest with the Girl Scouts of South Florida, and actually three different troops named the machine Harriet, after Harriet Tubman, which is very impressive because it's a historical name. They had to explain why they named it after that name, and they explained that Harriet was a powerful woman who saved people underground, and they put that connection," said Denise Pojomovsky, of MAT Concessionaire. "So our machine, our Harriet, has started drilling."

Copyright 2011 by Post Newsweek. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.