A handful of dumper trucks arriving at Watson Island and the first road workers, who could be seen taking and eating pita bread at a leisurely pace, were a sure sign that the largest construction project in South Florida history is being rolled out in downtown Miami. By 2014, the city transportation network will have been extended by a tunnel carrying traffic from the center of town to the port, easing congestion in central Miami. The entire project, dubbed the Port of Miami tunnel, is worth a whopping $1 billion, but the investment is bound to change the way residents will move around.
Traffic during construction will be rearranged and motorists will have to put up with a number of intermediate rerouting or street closures. Initially, disruptions are likely to be barely visible, but as the project gets into full swing later this year, it is going to be quite plain to see. Drilling works under Biscayne Bay are scheduled to start by mid 2011. The entire construction is broken down into parts, with new ramps and lanes being immediately integrated with existing infrastructure to ensure quick impact on quality of traveling.
Road works are planned between 9 in the morning and 3.30 in the afternoon, but night shifts may be introduced when necessary. Authorities that coordinate the project make it clear that they want to minimize negative impact on neighborhoods, so drilling and other heavy works will stop for weekend nights or major events. Materials delivery will fall under the same restrictions.
The grand opening is expected for May 2011. Authorities hope the tunnel will divert cargo truck traffic from downtown Miami, but it is going to welcome other road vehicles too, from passenger cars to excursion buses to bikes from motorcycle rental Miami is known for.