Financial close was previously achieved on October 15, 2009, making Meridiam a 90% shareholder in the project alongside Bouygues Travaux Publics (10%). Florida utilized the public-private partnership model to complete the tunnel, and the project was jointly tendered by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Miami-Dade County, and the City of Miami, representing an overall investment of US$903 million.
The tunnel is part of a US$2 billion capital-improvement plan at the Miami port. The project was temporarily cancelled in late 2008 due to the financial crisis but was resumed in 2009, with construction commencing in May 2010. The Port of Miami Tunnel Project consisted of three components:
The tunnel structure is comprised of two tubes with a diameter of 36 feet, each containing two traffic lanes, curbs, walkways, ventilation fans, and additional safety features. Through connecting Watson Island and the Port of Miami beneath Government Cut, which is the main shipping channel in Biscayne Bay, it will help move traffic eastbound to and westbound from the Port. Furthermore, by connecting MacArthur Causeway to the Port of Miami, this project will serve as a dedicated roadway linking Port facilities with Florida's Interstate System.
The tunnel is expected to divert 16,000 vehicles daily from downtown Miami by providing a direct link to Interstate 95 and State Road 836, which connects to Miami International Airport. Before the construction of the tunnel, the only accessible entryway to the port was through Port Boulevard, which caused heavy traffic and congestion for cargo trucks and cruise ships.
The creation of the tunnel provides another entry point besides the existing Port Bridge, which will maintain Port of Miami as the community's second largest economic generator, with more opportunities for national and global growth. As a result, Miami will become an even more attractive destination by which to exit or enter the U.S. market.
Thierry Deau, Chairman and CEO of Meridiam, stated:
The Port of Miami was Meridiam's first PPP project in the U.S. and I am happy to be a part of it. Public-private partnerships represent an innovative method of delivering much needed infrastructure solutions to U.S. communities. In this case, Miami will become an even more attractive destination for tourists and commerce alike. Jobs have been created and needed logistical capacity was enhanced.