MIAMI (AP) - Port Miami's long-awaited tunnel is finally set to open to the public at 6 a.m. on Monday.
The $1 billion tunnel that travels for three-quarters of a mile under Biscayne Bay was originally scheduled to open May 19, following a grand opening ceremony that featured Gov. Rick Scott. But delays stretched into 11 weeks, thanks to malfunctions that included an exhaust fan malfunction and a drainage pipe leak.
Bouygues, the Paris-based construction company that built the tunnel, is paying a daily fine of $115,000 to MAT Concessionaire, the consortium of companies that built the tunnel and will operate it. By Monday morning, the fines will total nearly $9 million. Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Transportation won't start making its $33 million annual payment to the company until the tunnel opens.
Don't expect any pomp and circumstance when the gates finally open, said Chris Hodgkins, vice president of MAT Concessionaire, told the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/1xEcg7c ). "And the only prize for the first customer will be a quick drive time into the port. We're a tunnel, not Best Buy," he added.
The tunnel is expected to pull some 16,000 port-bound vehicles a day off the streets of downtown Miami. The vehicles will be routed onto the MacArthur Causeway and then under the bay.
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com
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