The $1 billion tunnel is expected to pull 16,000 port-bound vehicles a day off Miami’s downtown streets by routing them onto the MacArthur Causeway and then under Biscayne Bay for three-quarters of a mile.
The tunnel was originally scheduled to open May 19, and officials staged a grand ceremony — including a speech by Gov. Rick Scott — even though they knew it wouldn’t be ready for traffic for at least another 10 days or so.
But the 10 days stretched into 11 weeks as the exhaust fans malfunctioned and a drainage pipe sprang a mysterious leak. All the while, the Paris-based construction company Bouygues paid a daily fine of $115,000 to MAT Concessionaire — a forfeiture that will total nearly $9 million by Monday.
Taxpayers, however, lost nothing except an occasional temper. The Florida Department of Transportation won’t start making its $33 million annual payment to the concessionaire until the tunnel opens.
As the opening of the tunnel slipped to late May, then mid-July and finally early August (the precise date changed three times last week), tunnel officials could barely conceal their exasperation. Their confidence in the announcement of a Monday opening could be gauged by the fact that they could actually make some jokes about the delays.
Read more here: